Both Sides Turn Out For Dakota Project In Hearing Before County Council

Jan 14, 2021

Credit KPCW

The Summit County Council Wednesday night heard from the public for the first time on the large Dakota Pacific residential/commercial plan proposed for Kimball Junction.

The Council didn’t make a decision after a meeting that ran for over three hours.    The speakers who attended the meeting, via Zoom, were about evenly divided between opposition and support for the plan proposing some 1.3 million square feet and including 1100 residential units.

The Council heard from over 25 citizens during the hearing.

Last fall, the project was sent on by the Snyderville Planning Commission with a negative recommendation, by a 5 to 2 vote.

The critics on Wednesday said that the Dakota plan is a big urban project that doesn’t fit in a rural resort area.    They said it will accelerate growth and add too much in population to Kimball Junction.

Dakota’s proposal would amend the Boyer Tech Park plan approved 12 years ago.    Among the comments, Kathy Becker said Dakota won’t bring the kind of quality, high-paying jobs they were hoping for with the Tech Park.

She also said Dakota’s affordable housing won’t be effective.     

“It’s a cool, different kind of development.   But I don’t think it’s one—it’s not gonna provide more housing for teachers.   I mean, teachers are lining up and they should get it.   We’re gonna have a net decrease in this development of affordable housing, because we’re creating a lot of low-income jobs, and that’s going to greatly increase the number of commuters.  That’s just what’s gonna happen.  Actually I like that there’s more apartments.  I think all of those things are the mix that we need.  But I don’t think we should be giving points to this development as if it is solving a housing problem.  It’s actually not.   It’s a net decrease.”

Becker added that while the sketches show connectivity in the development, that won’t hold up during the winter months in Summit County.

Another critic, Josh Mann, said they need a development that would bring diversity to the economy.

In the last dozen years, only two buildings have been developed in the Tech Park.   And Mann, agreeing with former County Council Member Sally Elliott, said that Boyer hadn’t done a very good job promoting the development.

But even with that, Mann said the Tech Park has done well.     

“One of the fundamental failures here is that everybody looks at the Tech Park as a failure.  The Tech Park has actually been a success, when you look at it.   We got Skull Candy.   We have open space.  We got affordable housing.  We have a transit center.   We have roundabouts that then enabled Whole Foods and other economic things.   We got e-bikes.  It’s actually been a huge success at the Tech Park.   And, yes, would we want a few more Skull Candies?  Of course.  But could we really have survived if Adobe moved in 5000 or 10,000 jobs.  Probably not.   We want it slow.”

On the other hand, supporters said the affordable housing will make it possible for people to live here, whether they are employees, or young people who have grown up in the county.

Ryan Fish said his family has owned property here since the early 1980’s.     He has run a small service business for lodges and restaurants for 20 years, and his family now lives in Oakley.     Fish said he changed his mind about the development.        

“At first, I was opposed to the growth and opposed to the idea of the growth.   But as I spent time looking in more detail at the plan, I’ve come full circle, and I’m fully supportive of the proposal, because of several things.  But the biggest issue I face as a small-business owner, in the area like others have said, is finding and hiring employees who can work and live in the area.  It’s so hard to try and attract people from the Valley to drive up to the Park City area every day.  So I love the component of the affordable housing.”

And Jon Beutler is a Jeremy Ranch resident and says his family has roots in the county going back several generations.      

“This is one of the first projects that I’ve been involved with that takes into consideration the everyday family that wants to live here, and try to make a difference—that wants to contribute to our local society.   I’m not talking about the top of Deer Valley, I’m not talking about the second-home or the third-home owner.   I’m talking about people that want to live here.  The comments so far by those who oppose the development, I would love to challenge them—where do your children go to school?  Where do they hang out?  What neighborhood recreation do they participate in?  I’d love to hear that.  I mean, because—I may be blind to what the other people think.  I’m looking for a place for my children to call home.  Not necessarily interested—sorry to say this, but those people that are entitled to live here.  We live here, we work here.  It’s hard to live here."

Basin resident Jon Beutler.