The Summit County Council had to postpone two of the major items on their agenda Wednesday, but the councilors still had a long conversation looking at planning and housing issues in the Snyderville Basin.
The council was scheduled to discuss and possibly approve a proposed neighborhood mixed-use (NMU) zone. A related item, the master planned development process, was set for a public hearing and maybe a vote.
But due to a mistake in the notice posted by the county, both items were continued to April 7.
During a discussion on the NMU zone, councilor Roger Armstrong said he’s for the zone, but he fears if the details aren’t done right, it could incentivize density and growth.
Later on, councilor Doug Clyde told KPCW he doesn’t agree that the NMU zone is necessarily growth-inducing.
“Growth-inducing is when we change the general plan, and we tell people that in the General Plan, we’re going to put in new density, and perhaps apply that zone, or apply another zone to an MPD process either way,” he said. “”Then it becomes growth-inducing. But just having the zone is not growth-inducing. Matter of fact, the point of creating the zone is to make sure that what we have on the ground reflects more accurately what’s shown in the code.”
He said the county’s approval processes in the past have been haphazard, comparing them to the game show “Let’s Make a Deal.”
“Summit County, from the very beginning, has never developed zones that reflect the actual day-to-day operations of various entities,” he said. “We don’t have a recreational zone, a mixed-use zone. We do things under commercial zones, with a bunch of additional regulations because that’s a zone that is available to us. The purpose of developing the NMU zone is to have a zone that represents a land use on the ground, that currently, for example, we have in the Kimball Junction area. But we’d like to have the zoning represent the land use.”
The group also discussed affordable housing. Councilor Chris Robinson said it’s the “issue du jour’ not just locally, but for the whole country.
Clyde said he feels that the problem can’t be solved by sticks and bricks.
“Based on the way our current general plan is put together, and based on our requirements to integrate affordable housing into our communities—that is, to make sure that affordable housing are not just standalone compounds—but in order to fully integrate affordable housing, we’re just simply not going to be able to do that. We’re told that we need 1,200 units a year, whatever the number is, for the next five years. That’s just not going to happen. It’s physically not possible. And the county is certainly not going to go into existing developments and become a new development authority. This concept that somehow or another we’re gonna build our way out of this is just specious.”
Robinson also said he’s doubtful that the county has accomplished much with its requirement that 20 percent of new development must be affordable density.
Clyde said he agrees.
“In the past, if you wanted to get a project approved in Summit County, and you came forward with a large affordable component to your plan, you probably had a pretty good chance of getting it approved,” he said. “And those were in the days in which we were using that 20% number. But we know now that that 20% number probably barely covers the additional employment that is generated by the other 80% of the development. So we’re just chasing our tail with that number. So, again, I think what he was saying, and I believe what we all agree on, is just coming in with that 20% affordable housing component is not going to get you new density in Summit County.”