Town-sized development near Coalville given glowing review
Plans for a new town near Hoytsville received high praise at a recent Summit County Council meeting, even from officials who oppose growth and wish ‘10,000 people would pack up and leave.’
Anyone keeping an eye on public meetings on the East Side, whether in Francis, Coalville or unincorporated parts of Summit County, has seen in recent years a rising tide of small-to medium-sized subdivisions: 10 homes here, a dozen there, 30 somewhere else.
Summit County councilors, planning commissioners and staffers say these smaller projects, taken collectively, present a potential future of disjointed land planning that won’t easily be knitted together with support services like sewer systems or commercial centers where new residents can buy groceries.
In Hoytsville, just south of Coalville in North Summit, the county is trying something different. It’s called the Cedar Crest Village Overlay, a collective of two-dozen landowners who brought their 1,000 acres together to try to plan a new town.
In recent months, large homebuilders related to Ivory Homes and Larry H. Miller Real Estate have consolidated holdings in the area, officials have said. But they say the idea remains the same: to plan for growth now to protect what the community values, like open space and water quality.
East Side Planning Commissioner Tom Clyde told the county council last week the new town includes a “frightening amount of density” but it’s a real chance to get land-planning right.
“I think there's potential to really make something remarkable here,” Clyde said. “And for, like I say, someone like me, who wishes 10,000 people would pack up and leave, to be at the forefront of creating a city of 20,000 people — the only reason I can do it is that I think we're getting it right. I think we're getting a community here that functions.”
The Cedar Crest Village Overlay Committee has created a land use map that identifies in broad strokes where certain elements of the town should go: its Main Street businesses, clusters of homes and school sites.
Next up, according to Summit County Planning Director Peter Barnes, is an ordinance that would include legal language about how many homes could be built where, how to implement the plan and when certain phases are to be completed. That ordinance would be reviewed and adopted by the county council before any building could be done.
Officials at the joint meeting last week, including Clyde, praised the landowners for working together and setting aside potential future profits. If the plan identified one person’s parcel of land as the site for 1,000 homes and another person’s as future open space, there could be a big difference in how much money the land is worth.
“I have to say, I've been impressed and surprised by the cooperation among the property owners, who started out with the premise that boundary lines had to just be ignored, and they couldn't get into a fight over who had the commercial and who had where the sewer plant goes,” Clyde said. “Because the sewer plant has to go where the sewer plant has to go, it has to be at the bottom.”
That alliance may be tested in the future. Barnes said each parcel of land would still have to be rezoned individually, meaning there could be months or even years between when homes are built in one place and businesses are built in another.
Each of the Eastern Summit County Planning Commissioners who attended the meeting indicated support for the project. The county councilors did not oppose the plan and praised the process. That includes councilor Doug Clyde, no relation to Tom.
“I just applaud everybody who has been working on this. It's just stunning where we've gotten,” Councilor Doug Clyde said. “And so I will raise my hand, saying that in spite of the fact that I am absolutely against any growth in Summit County, period, I think this is a very good land planning process, and should be a template for our future.”
Barnes said he expected a draft of the ordinance would be presented at an Eastern Summit County Planning Commission meeting later this month.