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Summit County Council revisits Dakota Pacific proposal for first time in a year

Summit County Council meeting where Dakota Pacific's latest Kimball Junction development plan was shared publicly for the first time.
Summit County Council meeting where Dakota Pacific's latest Kimball Junction development plan was shared publicly for the first time.

Attendance was up at Wednesday night's Summit County Council meeting as the council heard Dakota Pacific's latest Kimball Junction development plan publicly for the first time.

Dakota Pacific submitted its downsized proposal last November, cutting back after the original plan garnered well-organized opposition.

When the council considered the original redevelopment plan in Dec. 2021, a crowd of nearly 1,000 community members turned out in protest. Wednesday's meeting drew about 25 in-person attendees, still more than usually sit in on work sessions.

Dakota Pacific CEO Marc Stanworth, Director of Development Jeff Gochnour and VP of Capital Transactions Zach Clegg presented the proposal-dubbed "Plan C"-to a council that included two new faces, Councilmembers Canice Harte and Tonja Hanson.

The council generally praised Dakota Pacific's efforts to reduce residential and commercial square footage and overall density, but nearly every council member raised the specter of traffic and congestion along SR224.

Councilmember Malena Stevens expressed hope that the development could alleviate current traffic issues-if coupled with improvements to High Valley Transit.

Councilmember Chris Robinson questioned whether Dakota Pacific's additional market rate units will actually fill in "the missing middle" in the housing market as the developer claims. The missing middle refers to housing priced between affordable rates and market rate.

"The conventional wisdom, especially maybe in legislative circles," Robinson said, "is the way to do that is to create more units and that will result with supply and demand as supply goes up. It'll satiate demand and prices will fall and make it affordable. In this community that logic doesn't work unless taken to a ridiculous extreme where we had made the place so untenable to live here that it would, you know, people would flee and then maybe we would have affordable through flooding the market with extreme density."

Council Chair Roger Armstrong also called out what he characterized as "'hedging" around Dakota Pacific's proposed elder care facilities. The developer said it would need another company to partner with to deliver that.

He also floated the idea of preserving some of the open space by purchasing it from Dakota Pacific.

"How do we expand that block space?" Armstrong said. "How do we expand that green space? What if the county bought some of the density down in this project?"

Since this was a work session, the council did not vote on the proposal. Discussion will continue at next week's meeting when the council will hear Dakota Pacific's traffic study. To assess the study, the council contracted an independent third party, whose own report will be discussed as well.

The council also approved several motions, all unanimously. University of Utah Business School professor and former GE executive Wes Chappell was appointed to the North Summit Recreation Special Service District Administrative Control Board.

After listening to competing arguments for nearly an hour, the council unanimously denied an appeal seeking to block construction of an apple cider distillery and tasting room in Marion.