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Promontory gets green light for new employee housing, neighbors voice opposition

An artist's rendering of one of Liberty Ranch's buildings
Courtesy Chris Zarek
Cowboy Partners
An artist's rendering of one of Liberty Ranch's buildings

Summit County approved four buildings and 40 units just outside Promontory's gate and some neighbors aren’t happy.

Promontory Club’s development agreement passed the Summit County Commission in 2001, which entailed the right to build 1,901 units and the responsibility to build 37 employee households, with 82 bedrooms.

With its new 40-unit development, the club will finally meet that requirement. County Manager Shayne Scott approved the new housing community, dubbed “Liberty Ranch,” at a public hearing Thursday.

Promontory’s general manager Kelli Brown said she’s pleased with the outcome.

“We are looking forward to adding more affordable employee housing for Promontory. It's much needed just as it is everywhere in Summit County,” Brown said. “We think that the plan—that has been very thoughtfully created—will be a good one and will integrate well into the fabric of the community.”

Promontory already has nine affordable units for its employees, and Brown said she thinks this will be the last of the employee housing the club will build. If the 6,500-acre development does decide to build more, it will trigger another public hearing process.

However, some residents of Promontory’s neighbor, the 20-acre Silver Gate Ranch, take issue with where the club has chosen to put its new housing.

The four buildings will be outside the fence of Promontory’s gated community on Silver Gate Drive, next to Silver Gate’s homes.

This map shows the site of Liberty Ranch's four employee housing buildings in yellow. The orange area is Promontory Club, and the blue is Silver Gate Ranch, whose HOA opposes the project.
Google Earth
This map shows the site of Liberty Ranch's four employee housing buildings in yellow. The orange area is Promontory Club, and the blue is Silver Gate Ranch, whose HOA opposes the project.

Silver Gate resident Brian Schwartz, who speaks for the homeowners’ association, says the county should not have rubber-stamped Promontory’s proposal.

He says the HOA isn’t opposed to something being built next to the neighborhood. Density is the main concern.

“When you have 7,000 acres to work with, cramming 40 homes with 100 residents and 100 parking spots on 2.5 acres,” Schwartz said, “that's just not reasonable. That's an undue burden, and Promontory put that burden right next to us.”

Brown said there’s no better place to put it. Promontory is obligated to build employee housing close to services like schools and public transit.

“We did some serious due diligence to vet if there is a better place,” she said. “Everything else just puts our employees further away from all of those essential services.”

The reason Promontory can build outside its gates is because the land falls within its “special planning area.” The SPA, as it is known, predates the gates and fences that cordon off the club.

Schwartz said the county doesn’t make enough information available for would-be homeowners. He and other Silver Gate residents didn’t know the SPA was right next to them.

The county has a geographic information system, which includes zoning information, but Shwartz said he wants the application to include information about density and SPAs.

Planning staff told him they don’t have the budget to add the additional information about every Summit County development into the system right now.

Silver Gate’s other concern about the process is that it’s been administrative rather than legislative. That is, Promontory’s request ultimately is sent to the county manager rather than the Summit County Council.

At Thursday’s public hearing, county civil attorney Helen Strachan said usually the council would need to decide whether to increase density.

But Promontory’s development agreement defines affordable housing as an “institutional use,” meaning it's necessary for the club to operate, which is then excluded from the definition of housing density.

So as an administrative decision, if the development meets code and follows the law, it passes.

Before breaking ground for the new housing, Promontory’s contractor will need to secure building permits. Those will determine the construction timeline.

Of Promontory’s 1,901 homes, hotel rooms and other units, which count toward density, 1,431 have been approved or are already built.

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