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Wasatch Crest treatment facility could get decision Tuesday

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Jon Wienberg
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Parents and children of the Highland Estates neighborhood wait at the school bus stop, just in front of the proposed Wasatch Crest facility. There are potential plans to move the bus stop if the project gets approved.

Wasatch Crest is now proposing a maximum of 24 patients.

The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission could make a final decision on the controversial Wasatch Crest substance abuse treatment facility at its meeting Tuesday.

The proposed residential treatment facility on 241 Highland Dr. has drawn the opposition of neighbors, who say it doesn’t fit with the rural residential neighborhood.

Since the commission last reviewed the application in October, Wasatch Crest has slightly revised its plans. They now propose a maximum of 24 patients. They previously sought a max of 32 and then 28 - that level of density was a major concern for the public and the commission.

The former tenant of the 16-bedroom building, BeeHive Homes senior living treatment center, had at most 16 patients at a time.

Wasatch Crest wants to serve two kinds of patients. Half would be people detoxifying from substance addiction who would stay no longer than a week. The other half would be enrolled in a larger group addiction recovery program which could last several months.

Jim Huffman is the founder and CEO of Wasatch Crest. He said the public feedback has been helpful, but added some people have fueled misconceptions.

“Various public comments have referred to our clients as inmates, criminals, pedophiles, and child molestors," Huffman said. "And that part for us has been particularly difficult, and especially in a community like Park City that we all believe to be generally progressive and open-minded.”

Jon Wienberg lives nearby and is critical of the project. He along with some of his neighbors sent a list of conditions of approval for the project they hope the commission will consider.

One of those is a maximum patient count of 16. Another key concern is the patients that will be at the facility less than a week.

“It’s not compatible with the neighborhood," Wienberg said.

"The folks that would come in for 30, 60, 90 days - they’re at least a little bit closer. But this is the kind of thing, as residents of the neighborhood, we’re looking to the commission to help make sure that this is a good, compatible use. Because it’s slated to be here for a really long time.”

Huffman said he does think the facility fits with the neighborhood, and that it meets all objective parameters for approval.

Neighbors have also been critical of the county’s development code, which governs land use applications.

A section of the code prohibits one residential treatment facility for elderly or people with disabilities from being within three-fourths of a mile of another such facility. The ROOTs Transition treatment facility, which serves adolescent girls, is less than half a mile from the proposed Wasatch Crest home.

However, the county’s legal team determined that the ROOTs facility falls under the definition of a “group home,” which specifically excludes facilities for persons with disabilities or the elderly - meaning it's irrelevant to the Wasatch Crest application.

Summit County Development Director Pat Putt conceded that sections of state and county code are outdated.

“I do think that they need to be looked at," Putt said. "And I think that’s what we're going to hear coming out of the conclusion of this application.”

The public can comment Tuesday night. The regular portion of the meeting begins at 6 p.m. The commission is meeting at the Richins Building, however, online participation is encouraged, as the meeting will be relegated to a smaller room due to Election Day. Wasatch Crest is last on the agenda. A link to attend virtually can be found here.

Parker Malatesta covers Park City for KPCW. Before coming to NPR, he spent one year as a general assignment reporter for TownLift in Park City. He previously was the news editor at The News Record, the student paper at the University of Cincinnati. He loves running, reading, and urban planning.