Summit County Council To Review New Website, Plan For National Forest Lands

Jul 10, 2019

Image from the new county website
Credit Summit County

During their agenda on Wednesday, the Summit County Council will consider planning for their national forest lands; they may make a decision over an entry gate in a Jeremy Ranch subdivision; and will see the new design for the county’s web page.

The council meets at the Richins Services Building and starts their work session at about 3:30 pm

At about 3:40, they will get a presentation on the redesigned county website. County Manager Tom Fisher said they gathered input from both their staff and outsiders on how to improve the site.

“We’ve spent about the last six months to a year with an internal team looking at the website,” Fisher continued. ‘Looking with our provider Civic Plus, at what things they have to offer to make it act better, make it a little easier for folks to navigate. Of Course, that’s always a personal judgment. But we think we’ve made some improvements, and even offered some space to some local artists in order to display some of their pictures along the way.”

At 4:00 pm, the council will discuss where they want to go with some kind of Public Lands Initiative, or PLI, on their national forest lands in the Uintas.

One option is for the county to pursue its own PLI. Fisher said they learned from Emery County that their Initiative took several years and a lot of staff time.

Fisher said they’ve also though about how much help they can get from Utah’s Congressional delegation.

“We’ve talked to Senator Romney’s office,” Fisher said. “They’re very supportive of doing something, but they’re giving us advice on timing. Then with Congressman Bishop likely retiring this year, that changes the landscape for us locally as well, since he’s our representative.”

The option recommended by the staff, said Fisher, was to pursue funding to protect the forests against wildfire and to maintain watershed quality.

“Certainly wildfire management is a big national focus right now, due to some of the issues last year in the West especially in California,” Fisher explained. “As well as, there’s opportunities that our local forest managers want to pursue in concert with the county. Those might be the low-hanging fruit to accomplish some of our goals that would be looked at under the PLI, while we reconsider that whole initiative.’

At 5:00 pm, the council will consider a decision on whether to allow an entry gate at the Trails at Jeremy Ranch subdivision.

The county manager had determined that the gate, installed in 2001, was an illegal nonconforming use. A group of homeowners have claimed that the record, going back to the 1990’s, shows the county knew a gate was planned and allowed it.

The appeal record on the issue runs to over 1,000 pages. After a hearing in June, the council deferred action to get more information on two items. First, under the 1994 planning code, was the gate defined as a “use” and was that use allowed? Also, was a precedent set by a gate in the Moose Hollow subdivision?

Fisher said attorneys for both sides have been directed to add some short legal briefs for the record. He said he doesn’t know if the council will take more testimony.

We asked him why the dispute matters.

“I think there’s been issues in the past around access,” Fisher continued. “Certainly there’s been emergency access concerns about gates. Our code since that time does not allow gates, except in certain situations. I think those are the things that get raised. The other part of it is that, if it was not contemplated at the time, and it was then put in, there’s an issue with that in regards to what was agreed to be built.”