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Summit County

Tech Center opposition retains legal counsel ahead of key hearing

Stop Dakota Pacific sign.jpg

Summit County is holding a hearing Wednesday to discuss Dakota Pacific’s proposal to build a large-scale development at Kimball Junction. Now, an opposition group says it’s raised enough money to pay lawyers to fight it.

The opposition to building a new neighborhood at Kimball Junction seems to have entered a new phase.

A group calling itself Friends of Summit County for Responsible Growth has hired attorneys, and a representative said on Monday the group may use legal means to try to stop the project.

Mitch Solomon, a representative of that group, said it won’t merely try to persuade the council to vote against the proposal.

“There are legal avenues that are available to the community to oppose the project,” Solomon said. “There are certain aspects of the project that we believe are potentially in violation of the general plan. And of course every development has to be consistent with the general plan. And then we also believe that it's possible that this could be taken to the voters in a referendum.”

If the council approves the plan, a referendum would halt that approval until voters have a chance to weigh in. If voters then reject the project, it would kill this specific proposal, but wouldn’t stop the developers from seeking a similar project in the future.

A development firm called Dakota Pacific Real Estate is seeking to build 1,100 residential units west of S.R. 224 and below the Utah Olympic Park. The plan also includes office and retail space and a hotel.

The land is undeveloped and it’s constrained by a 2008 contract with Summit County that allows only tech-related office buildings there, along with smaller businesses like lunch spots for those office employees.

Dakota Pacific is asking the Summit County Council to change that agreement to allow a wider variety of uses on the land.

Solomon said Monday the opposition group has received enough in donations to retain the law firm Clyde Snow, which has an office in Salt Lake City. He declined to say how much the group has raised or how many donations it’s received.

“We've raised all the money that we need to get through an initial phase of opposition and I think we're just really appreciative and fortunate that we have a fairly deep-pocketed community that has the ability to finance sort of whatever I think we'll need to do to see this through to completion,” Solomon said.

Earlier this year, four of the five Summit County Councilors expressed support for the development in an informal poll, though that was before a recent groundswell of public opposition gained momentum.

Proponents of the project say it would provide much-needed affordable housing, and encourage the Utah Department of Transportation to undertake costly fixes to the Kimball Junction intersections that otherwise wouldn’t occur for a decade or more.

Opponents say there is no guarantee those fixes will happen even if the project is built, and question the benefits of a large-scale residential project in an already congested area.

“We're really at risk of kind of developing ourselves into oblivion and basically turning what is a special place to live and vacation into just another sort of mini-city that happens to be next to a ski area,” Solomon said.

A Dakota Pacific representative declined to comment for this story. The developers are scheduled to detail their project in a presentation at a public input session Wednesday evening.

The meeting is slated to begin at 6 p.m. at the Newpark Hotel Conference Center, 1476 Newpark Blvd. The council could vote on the project at that meeting.

The opposition group is asking supporters to join it before the meeting at 5 p.m. at Maxwell’s in Newpark Town Center.

For more information on the hearing, visit summitcounty.org.