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Snyderville Basin Planning Commission starts discussion to keep, remove or amend growth policy

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Basin Recreation
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The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission Tuesday night began the discussion to determine whether the policy that has slowed growth in the Snyderville Basin should stay on the books, be removed from the general plan, or be amended.

Policy 2.3 of the Snyderville Basin General Plan states that no new development can take place in the basin until the existing development approvals are significantly exhausted – or unless there is a compelling countervailing public interest to add more density.

Summit County Community Development Director Pat Putt says this will be one of the most important discussions the planning commission will have.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Putt said it’s not possible to stop the growth, but decisions today will impact generations to come.

The key, Putt said, “will be as we move into the future, if we are going to preserve to the greatest degree, we can those attributes of our community that we cherish ourselves the open space, the recreation, the business opportunities, we're going to need to be extremely mindful of how and what decisions we make in the future, and how we manage the future growth. It's not about stopping growth. It's about how we're going to successfully direct it and manage it to the benefit of not only the people who are here now, but the people who will be here in the future, in the generations to come.”

The views from the planning commission Tuesday night ranged from removing the policy from the general plan to tweaking it to ensure it has the teeth it needs as growth pressures mount.

Commissioner John Kucera thinks the policy has been a tool that has served the basin well and hasn’t limited any development opportunities.

Commissioner Chris Conabee doesn’t think the commission has enough facts or data to make good decisions going forward.

“I think we need to task our council with providing monies for a study that give us, you know, our top five concerns, and what did those problems look like - everything from C02 emissions to traffic to, you know, school eligibility, the size of our schools, how many school children we have, what our population is. What do our demographics look like for older people and how we're taking care of them; what our transit mass transit looks like. It's to fund a study that gives us those answers in a 5,10,15,20, and 25 year period,” Conabee said.

Commissioner Ryan Dickey thinks he could support removing the exceptions from policy 2.3 but is concerned what impact that might have on the need for affordable housing.

I think it's a folly to think that we can build our way out of an affordable housing crisis by building a lot more market rate housing to get these slivers of affordable housing,” Dickey said. “When you build market rate housing you just increase the demand for workers. Those people don't just come here and work for a company, they start businesses, they create demand for products and services. They're going to employ people. It just grows the problem, and I don't see that that's a solution in Park City, I think we should be focusing on other affordable housing strategies than simply adding more and more density to the base. And so, I'm really hesitant about using the exceptions to 2.3 even to build more affordable housing when it's paired with market rate housing.

Planning Commission Chairman Thomas Cooke says the planning commission needs to engage the public before any recommendations are made.

“We're talking about perhaps the biggest, most profound change to the general plan, or not, and we haven't really reached out to the community and re-polled, engaged what those core values are,” Cooke said. “And, you know, if we don't do that, then we can make the assumption that they haven't changed much, but I think that probably changed a lot in my opinion.”

A public hearing on the topic will be set at a future planning commission meeting – perhaps as soon as October 26th.