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Summit County says it could choose not to comply with new law targeted at Kimball Junction development

Photo by Bailey Edelstein
Courtesy of Summit County
A new law that apparently requires dense development at Kimball Junction also includes provisions that will take staff time away from Summit County's previously set priorities, the county manager says.

The Summit County Council will start its meeting Wednesday with a discussion about a new state law that appears to require development at Kimball Junction. The county manager said the county could consider not complying with the law, but that may have consequences.

When the state legislature passed HB 462 last month, one piece of it seemed aimed squarely, and solely, at Summit County. Four lines of the 4,000-line bill require the county to establish a zone called an HTRZ at Kimball Junction. HTRZs, or Housing and Transit Reinvestment Zones, mandate in certain areas the kind of dense development common on the Wasatch Front.

On Wednesday, the Summit County Council is set to hear an hourlong presentation about that aspect of the legislation, as well as its other elements.

The law also moves up the date for producing a moderate income housing plan and makes the plan more stringent, requiring an implementation strategy and documentation about how the county will achieve its housing goals.

Taken together, County Manager Tom Fisher said the amount of work required by the new law is forcing the county to put aside other priorities.

“This effort around a moderate income housing plan and a proposal for an HTRZ is going to, because of the new state law, if we choose to comply with that, is going to take center stage. I mean, it has to, it's going to take effort to do it,” he said. “… And if we're going to do it, we don't want to do it poorly. We want to make it something that can be useful for Summit County in the future.”

Whether the county will meet the October and December deadlines and comply with the law is still to be decided. Fisher said it’s possible the county won’t comply with the new mandate.

“Well, I mean, it's certainly on the table,” Fisher said of noncompliance. “I mean, we could choose not to go through these efforts or not do them in time, or whatever that case may be. There are penalties for that.”

Fisher said the new law appears to tie state funding and prioritization for transportation projects to development. And Fisher said the county already has projects scheduled that use state funding.

County officials have said the county almost certainly can’t pay for costly transportation projects by itself, like bus rapid transit or reconstructing the Kimball Junction interchange.

The discussion of the new law is the first item on the agenda for the council meeting, which is set to begin at 3:10 p.m. at the Richins Building, 1885 W. Ute Blvd. It will also be streamed on the county’s Facebook page and on Zoom.

The agenda also includes continued discussion about nonprofits seeking tax exempt status and multiple public hearings, including one discussing amendments to the Snyderville Basin development code aimed at regulating landscaping to conserve water.

At 6 p.m., members of the public can comment about anything that’s not on the agenda and isn’t the subject of a pending land-use application. The county posts instructions for those participating via Zoom that ask commenters to register for the meeting using their full names and to click the “Raise Hand” button to comment during the meeting. Comments can also be emailed to publiccomments@summitcounty.org.

Alexander joined KPCW in 2021 after two years reporting on Summit County for The Park Record. While there, he won many awards for covering issues ranging from school curriculum to East Side legacy agriculture operations to land-use disputes. He arrived in Utah by way of Madison, Wisconsin, and western Massachusetts, with stints living in other areas across the country and world. When not attending a public meeting or trying to figure out what a PID is, Alexander enjoys skiing, reading and watching the Celtics.