At First Dakota Public Hearing, Comments To Snyderville Commission Are Mostly Hardball

Jun 25, 2020

Credit Dakota Pacific

The Snyderville Planning Commission, hosting their first public hearing for the large Dakota Pacific proposal at Kimball Junction, heard from speakers mostly critical of the plan.

A number of them urged the Snyderville Commisisoners to recommend a denial.   They argued the project will accelerate growth in the  area, and said the county can do better with a large, important piece of property at the entryway to Park City.

About a dozen people spoke to the Snyderville Commission.   They included two of the former County Commissioners who, in 2008, gave an approval to the Boyer Company for an office park devoted to research and technical business.

One of those, Bob Richer, noted that the Boyer approval preserved parcels of open space, kept 800 units from being spread across the hillside and acquired land for the Kimball Junction transit center.

He said while he’s open to improvements on that legacy, the Dakota proposal, with up to 1.3 million square feet  of residential, office and commercial, highlights the type of uses that would accelerate growth.

He said the development has a high bar to comply with the Snyderville Code provision 2.3—which says the county can’t create new density unless it receives a compelling public benefit.    

“You’re giving up leverage and control to solve two problems, but you’re not solving the problems.  You’re accelerating development which may lead to additional unforeseen problems and issues.  This proposal’s premature.   It is not ripe.  A No vote leads to more negotiation and more negotiation could lead to a more elegant solution.  You need to feel the magic.  What you feel is a queasy sensation in your stomach because there is no magic here.”

He said they shouldn’t approve the project when they don’t know what will come of hoped-for improvements, like an overpass crossing 224 at the MacDonald’s intersection.     

“You want a giant roundabout with a pedestrian walkway above?  Well then, you would probably need to condemn one of the top-producing MacDonald’s in our region, and a Well’s Fargo bank building and others.   Not easy.  Lots of lawyers involved.  Lots of time, and lots of money.  That’s reality.   You need time and money to make these transportation traffic changes.   Where’s the money going to come from?   Prior to the middle of March, I would have said that the chances of us getting another Winter Olympics were great.  But who knows now?   Perhaps the idea of assembling people from all over the world in one place will no longer be a reality, in this age of pandemic.  I don’t know.   But don’t you think it would be wise to wait and see if we get the Olympics, and if we get the $50 million-plus we would need in federal money to redo the intersection before we do anything to accelerate growth and traffic congestion.”

He urged the Snyderville Commisisoners to be tough negotiators and to unanimously deny the project.        

“Think about what it will be like to drive by this project in 20 years with your now-adult children in your car.   Will you take pride in what you’ve done here, or will you be ashamed?   I wish you the former, I fear the latter.”

In other comments, Kathy Mears said the plan looks attractive.   But this is a project for an expanding urban area, and Snydeville isn’t that.     She said a planned 1100 residences in the project isn’t good news.      

“This is being touted as a community benefit.  And I have not encountered anyone who thinks 1100 more units at Kimball Junction will be a community benefit, unless perhaps they don’t understand the ramifications of 1100 units that we all know, people will get in their cars and drive.  And that’s not going to be 1100 people, that’s going to be 2200 people, 3300 people.  How many children in the school district.   You know, nobody’s even talking about that.”

Todd Hauber, the Park City School District’s business administrator, said while the county cannot legally consider school impacts, the residential in the project could generate 500 students—enough for a new school.    He said District leaders were hoping they could have been brought into the conversation.

Basin activist, and former Snyderville Commissioner Debbie Scoggan said she’s sick over the plan.

And Sally Elliott, another of the County Commissioners who approved the Boyer plan, said this spot is their last chance to get some high-end economic diversity.     

“As our community warms, as we lose our snow, as destination travel becomes problematic, please say No to this project.  The developers have done an amazing job of interpreting our Code and trying to understand what we’re really looking for.  But, guess what, we really need to preserve this site to promote some sort of other kind of employment than we have now because we won’t be a destination ski resort forever.”

But Dakota Pacific had their supporters too.   Gordie Hall said that Utah is growing, and Dakota’s plan is the kind of transit-oriented project that will reduce traffic over time.

And Tim Anker said they need to encourage the kind of business that won’t be restricted to research and tech.       

“Dakota Pacific is proposing far less office space than is currently entitled in this project.  But I think that losing the restrictions of research and technology would allow very legitimate companies with good-paying jobs to come into the market, provide economic diversity for the citizens of our county.”

The Snyderville Commission did not make a decision.   The public hearing has been continued to their meeting on July 28th.