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County Council to meet with Tech Center developer, opposition group in public meeting

Tech Center site
Courtesy of Dakota Pacific Real Estate
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Dakota Pacific Real Estate's proposal to build 1,100 homes, office space, a hotel and other businesses on about 58 acres at Kimball Junction was scrapped late last year. The Summit County Council is inviting Dakota Pacific — as well as a citizen group that opposed the development — to the next council meeting to discuss how to move forward.

The Summit County Council announced its intention Wednesday to invite the Tech Center developer to the next council meeting — as well as the local group that formed to oppose the project.

The latest attempt to redevelop the west side of Kimball Junction went down in a heap of red shirts and public comments at a hearing in December.

Faced with overwhelming opposition to their plan to add 1,100 homes to the already congested area, developers Dakota Pacific Real Estate asked to pause negotiations and reform their proposal.

On Wednesday, the Summit County Council announced that county officials had been meeting with the developers, and that they’d invited them to the council’s next meeting, scheduled for Feb. 2.

In an unexpected move, the council is also inviting the community group that formed to oppose the development, which now calls itself Friends of Summit County.

Councilor Roger Armstrong told KPCW the goal of the meeting was to establish the process to move forward. He said there wouldn’t be substantive talks about issues like how many apartments would be included in the next proposal.

“We thought, why don't we have a conversation in two weeks and just have an open discussion about process and how we might handle this?” Armstrong said. “I doubt that there'd be a situation where we have outside people sitting at a table on a regular basis, but we do need — what we promised we would do is that we would better the transparency of this process and not take, you know, a fair amount of time behind the scenes to get something pretty well cooked up before you surface it and then find out that nobody likes it. That doesn't work.”

Some councilors were concerned that including only one group of residents might unfairly elevate them, or prejudice the process in some way. Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson said she would have to be assured the proposed process remained fundamentally fair for both the public and Dakota Pacific.

Summit County Chief Deputy Civil Attorney David Thomas said the reason the council could extend the invitation was only because Dakota Pacific agreed to it.

Though the public hearing for the application has already closed, Thomas said any renewed application from the developer would call for another public hearing, as it would represent a substantive change from the previous plan.

Councilor Doug Clyde, who has been involved in ski area development professionally for decades, said he’d never heard of an ad hoc group like Friends of Summit County being elevated to the role that a government agency might play.

“These people have identified themselves as the ‘Friends.’ That, normally, having done this for about 40 years, that normally translates into the enemies of Dakota Pacific. But they are not a — Dakota Pacific is welcome to meet with them. But I don't know that they have standing to meet with us that is greater than the rest of our citizens,” Clyde said.

Mitch Solomon, a leader of the friends group, told KPCW the group was glad the council honored its request for a meeting.

“The greater Park City area is facing unprecedented growth challenges and we want to help bring an increased level of focus, urgency and strategic thinking to the discussion,” Solomon said.

He added that the meeting was still being scheduled and may be held on Feb. 9, rather than Feb. 2.