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Have land? Summit County wants to hear from you

Summit County is ready to spend the $50 M voters approved for open space in 2021.
Leslie Thatcher
Summit County is ready to spend the $50 million voters approved for open space in 2021.

Summit County is accepting applications from county landowners interested in having their properties evaluated for possible acquisition or placed into conservation easements to prevent future development.

Last year, Summit County voters authorized $50 million in bond money for open space purchases. A year later, the county has formed an oversight committee and is ready to start negotiating.

The county appointed 21 residents from three parts of the county. From those, nine committee members – three from each group – were named to OSAC – the Open Space Advisory Committee.

Summit County Public Lands Manager Jess Kirby said that group crafted a Notice of Intent, or NOI, that lays out how landowners can proceed with seeking to have their property protected.

“It's asking landowners to come to us that are willing, that are ready, they can either be working with a land trust at that time or be on their own,” Kirby said. “And we're just there to help assist with that process and evaluation of the funds.”

The notice of intent form is on the county website, and a link can be found in the web version of this report at kpcw.org. It asks property owners to provide their parcel numbers and acreage. It also asks whether they’re working with a land trust, if there’s been a recent appraisal on the land and if so, how much it was appraised for, and what the owner would like to receive for the land.

Kirby says the county hopes to stretch the $50 million by combining the funds with outside grants.

“There's the Leon McAllister fund that has done some grant funding through that,” Kirby said. “The state has a couple of programs that work with forestry, forestry legacy parcels that can bring funds to the table, you know, Summit Lands or Utah open lands are they're very good at finding those pieces as well. And so, they're great partners to bring to the table for leveraging funds.”

The committee has come up with criteria for using bond money to acquire open space. Kirby says protecting water resources is high on the list.

“Certainly, we're not looking for the postage stamp of someone's backyard,” Kirby said. “But you know, bringing value to the community. There is no limitation on acreage at this point. And the county does want to evaluate each piece individually. But it was it was spoken during this whole process that the county is looking to preserve water, agricultural, open space, recreation. So, it just kind of depends on how that property comes in and what values it brings to the table.”

The advisory committee will make recommendations to the county manager, who will then work with the county council to negotiate a price.

All of the information is online at summitcounty.org. To date, Kirby says one property owner has reached out.