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Tentative schedule set for negotiations, decision on Dakota Pacific development

Will Skullcandy get some new neighbors? The county could decide Wednesday.
Connor Thomas
Will Skullcandy get some new neighbors? The county may decide next month.

The Summit County Council plans to make a decision on a controversial development proposed in Kimball Junction before winter’s end.

The council and developer Dakota Pacific Real Estate will meet twice a week for 6 weeks to see if they can agree on what to do with 50 undeveloped acres in Kimball Junction west of Skullcandy.

Dakota Pacific has a development agreement with Summit County to build over a million square feet of tech offices but wants to build mostly housing instead. The county council has been hesitant to approve the request after hundreds of Park City area residents organized against the development.

The standoff devolved into a lawsuit after the Utah Legislature passed a bill aimed at giving Dakota Pacific the rights to build what it wants, without county approval.

But now the pending lawsuit is on pause, so the developer and councilmembers can resume their public process.

At their first meeting in nearly a year Jan. 17, Councilmember Roger Armstrong announced there will be a series of biweekly special meetings to address key issues.

“And those issues aren’t going to be surprising to anyone that’s followed this process,” Armstrong said. “They are traffic and transportation; density and residential elements.”

The council initially set dates for a public hearing, where residents can weigh in, and its final decision during schools’ winter break. The county is rescheduling but hasn’t finalized a timeline. It will be posted here once it's final.

County Manager Shayne Scott says it’s important to make a decision in February before the 2024 General Session of the state legislature concludes.

Dakota Pacific CEO Marc Stanworth says they’re approaching the negotiations with solutions in mind.

“I think the last process that we went through was probably not ideal,” he said Jan. 17. “It didn't quite get maybe the level of interaction that we'd otherwise wanted. It's a complicated project, right? We've got a lot of moving pieces here.”

The developer brought forward the current project application in 2019. Dakota Pacific says it had been speaking with councilmembers about adding housing at the tech park for years before that.

The talks beginning this year are the most intensive yet. And they’re at the request of a member of the Utah House of Representatives, Casey Snider, a Republican representing Cache Valley.

Snider was the one who originally introduced the 2023 bill that may have forced development and that Summit County sued over last spring.

Armstrong revealed this week he and Council Chair Malena Stevens began reaching out to state lawmakers in earnest last summer, afraid that many state reps believe Summit County is against building housing.

Eventually the talks resulted in Snider taking an hours-long tour of the county in October with Armstrong, Stevens and Rep. Mike Kohler. During the tour, Snider asked the county if it would renegotiate with Dakota Pacific.

“He also indicated that the legislature would not be involved in that process,” Armstrong said.

Snider reached out to the developer as well, and the two parties agreed to pause the lawsuit this January.

Summit County and Dakota Pacific have an agreement that allows them to share information that then can’t be used against one or the other party if litigation resumes.

The lawsuit is on pause until June, but the parties have agreed on a stricter deadline of less than two months to reach a final decision.

The first meeting is set for Tuesday, Jan. 23, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It will focus on mitigating the development’s traffic impacts.

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