East Side Planning Commissioners Conflicted On Housing Project Off Highway 248

Jun 24, 2020

Credit @SummitCountyUT

Members of the East County Planning Commission showed some mixed feelings, in their latest discussion about a proposed 200-unit project off Highway 248, with affordable or attainable housing.

The planners, looking at the Whisper Ridge proposal on June 18th, were concerned about the project’s location,  impact on traffic, and whether the units will be affordable for residents on the East Side.

The applicants, Henry Sigg and Steve Coleman, want to develop a 22-acre property, near the main entry to the Tuhaye Development.  They want to rezone the land from Agriculture-80 to Commercial.

The planning staff is reporting they want to feature housing at every income level based on median income, as well as market units restricted to Summit County residents.

The applicants say that, following HUD guidelines, their project would support moderate-income levels between 80 and 120 percent of Area Median Income for the two areas of the county.

But among the comments, East Side Commissioner Bill Wilde was skeptical about the affordability of the project.       

“And even though we don’t have something in our Code, I still don’t believe this is going to be considered affordable housing in the wildest imagination.  I don’t believe that a South Summit school teacher’s going to go over there and be able to afford to buy one of these units, or even rent one.  But I think the developers’ responsibility is to come to us with some numbers that he—the percentage of affordability, homes that he’s going to propose, and what they believe that cost is gonna be for those, whether they’re two-bedroom, three-bedroom.”

Planning Commissioner Marian Wheaton said she’s stuck on the amount of density, and added traffic on 248 is going to get worse.

On the other hand, panel member Rich Sonntag said he supports the location.     

“I guess I was saying I actually think this is a good location to provide a good number of affordable units.  I think we might want to tie them to 60 percent of the county mean, in order to make sure that they address the needs of Eastern Summit County, and want to give a priority to Eastern Summit County residents and workers in the allocations.  But 248 is probably the best hope we have in the southern part of the county of locating something like this that has good transportation, both into town and into Kamas.”

His colleague, Clint Benson, agreed about the location.       

“I mean, it’s consistent with the adjacent development that we’re seeing, tons of townhomes, things like that going on with 248.”

Planning Commissioner Amy Rydalch had conflicted feelings.  She said while speeds on 248 are hazardous, that location is probably the most reasonable and accessible for a project that size.

But Tom Clyde said he doesn’t warm to the location and feels it could set a bad precedent.    

“It sort of just takes all the planning mistakes that we complain about on the Wasatch County side of the line, and perpetuates them onto our side of the county line.  It’s not walkable to anything.  There’s not a grocery store anywhere nearby.  It’s a transportation issue for the school district.  It’s a transportation issue for getting people in and out of Park City, in and out of Kamas for work.  And I worry that once we rezone one to that kind of density, it’s awfully hard to turn down the next parcel that comes in and wants to be rezoned for that kind of density.  So I’m very cold in terms of the location, and can only be warmed up if the affordability is just so attractive that we can’t say No.  But I don’t think it is yet.”

Finally, in response to the affordability issue, County Economic Development Director Jeff Jones cited some figures from the east side of the county.      

          “The median household income in North Summit is $71,988.  And in South Summit, it’s $67,251.  And the average household income, right in the middle of South Summit, is $90,276.  And in North Summit, it’s $99,776.”

County Economic Development Director Jeff Jones.