Final Decision on Highland Estates Affordable Development Goes to Summit Council

Mar 15, 2021

Credit highlandflatspc.com

The proposed Highland Flats development is heading to the Summit County Council—but with a negative recommendation from the Snyderville Planning Commission.

 

In response to the planning commission’s vote, the developers for the project issued a statement reacting both to the vote and to criticism from neighborhood residents.

 

The Highland Flats proposal comprises 410 rental units on 41 acres located between the northeast edge of Highland Estates and Silver Creek Junction off U.S. 40 and Interstate 80.

 

Section 2.3 of the Snyderville General Plan stipulates that the county not create any new entitlements unless a compelling public benefit is provided. The developers argue they’ve done that, since 80% of the project will be dedicated to affordable or moderate-income housing.

 

But Dickey told KPCW that Section 2.3 is a very high threshold. He said it provides the county should not approve new entitlements until the existing entitlements have been significantly exhausted.

 

“There’s a bunch of unbuilt stuff that’s going to create a huge unknown, and tough-to-quantify impact, and until a lot of that gets built out, you don’t want to keep giving out new entitlements, unless it clears this really significant hurdle in the code,” he said. “I think there’s affordable housing—there are other good reasons to allow development. If you had a really good handle on what all of those impacts are going to be from development. And what the code says is what I think is true—or the general plan, rather, is that we don’t. We really don’t know what the impact of the full Canyons buildout, and all these things are. And so the threshold for me to build anything new is incredibly high.”

 

He said the site the developers are offering is problematic for several reasons.

 

“When we look at affordable housing, this also is in a location where we wouldn’t necessarily plan to put affordable housing,” he said. “There are really no transit connections. It’s not on the major thoroughfares where folks move to go to work and to go to stores and such. It is a wildlife corridor. It’s an unattractive place for high-density housing in the first place. And that’s even after you’ve cleared the hurdle of 2.3.”

 

Another major factor, said Dickey, is the low-density neighborhood character of Highland Estates.

 

“The general plan is pretty clear on the neighborhood objective for Highland Estates, which is to reinforce the use of detached single-family residential structures, mitigate traffic impacts, comply with the future land use map, that shows that parcel as very low density,” he said. “And throughout the General Plan, there are a number of things that would need to be amended. And so I just looked at it as a project that doesn’t really make sense here, as a significant new entitlement, at a time when we have a whole lot of entitlements that haven’t been exhausted yet.”

 

 

In a statement issued after the Planning Commission vote, the developers asserted that the Snyderville Planners praised the concept plan, but voted No after extensive public comment against the project.

 

The developers said they’re going on to County Council with a location that is ideal, given its topography, utility access, minimal impairment to wildlife, inclusion in the Park City School District, proximity to public transit, and the ability for residents to travel into Park City by U.S. 40, rather than the more congested Kimball Junction.

 

They said the compelling need for affordable housing outweighs the neighbors’ objections, many of which can be addressed with smart planning.

 

In the statement, one of the applicants, Adam Breen of Breen Homes said, “We understand that neighbors will always be resistant to affordable housing no matter where it is proposed and it’s unfortunate that they want to close the door behind them and prevent those who serve the community from living here.” He said fears about an increase in crime, overcrowded schools and endangered property values are entirely unfounded.

 

And co-applicant Lance Bullen of the Colmena Group asked, if not this location, where?

 

He added, “It would be a travesty if the voices of a few drown out the needs articulated by so many.”