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Francis Planning Commission forwards annexation plan for ‘conservation subdivision’ to city council

The Francis Planning Commission is recommending an annexation application for a new development between the Weber-Provo diversion canal and Lambert Lane. The vote split 2-1.

The commission’s support for annexing three lots north of Francis now heads to the city council for final approval.

Local investor Richard Rapp with Annapurna Capital Partners, LP, made the application to create a ‘conservation subdivision,’ a residential development with 50% to 70% of the space preserved as communal open space. The annexed area will be a total of 92 acres at Hallam Road and Lambert Lane, but only 25 acres will be developed, leaving 70% of the area as communal open space. Dubbed the Burton Ranch, the development will have over 100 housing units.

City Planner Katie Henneuse outlined the benefits and drawbacks of the annexation during the commission’s meeting June 20. She said the main benefit is the proximity of the open space to the city sewer ponds. Since they are adjacent, if the sewer facilities need to be expanded to accommodate growth, there is already a large buffer.

“If the land is not annexed, then future development would probably allow to confer next to the ponds, and so we would have to purchase a buffer property to make sure that we didn't have development right there,” she said. 

Another benefit, Henneuse said, is the annexation would be within the city’s jurisdiction, which means Francis would decide what can happen with the land.

One drawback is Summit County is planning to build a collector road from Hallam Road across the open space to state Route 248. Henneuse said the city believes the road is needed, but is concerned about the cost if the area is annexed.

“If we annex it into the city … then we would be responsible for that,” she said. “There may be talk with the county, and there may be funding available, but it's really not guaranteed.”

The other issue is planned city growth. Francis wants to ensure it has enough suitable land for future housing development. Based on projections, the area will need another 500 units over the next 20 years. Those have already been approved within city limits – some as long as 20 years ago – but Henneuse said it’s unclear when they will actually be developed.

Commissioner Kimberley Lawson argued approving the annexation would add problems as it’s right next to permitted sites that don’t yet have development plans. Hidden Meadows is down the road from the planned development and Hart Crossing is across the street.

“My question really to the planning commission is, how do you define responsible growth? Is it putting 1000 people within a half-mile radius? Because that's basically what we're doing,” she said. “I feel like we’re turning into Herimman overnight.”

Commissioner Justin Ciampi said the pros outweighed the cons.

“In this particular case, there's such an advantageous point to the protected space and to the buffer and to you know, essentially only developing a third of this, the bang for your buck is where it turns for me,” he said.

Commissioner McKenna Marchant agreed. However, she emphasized the importance of homeownership.

“It's extremely important that we enable our kids and our workers, our service workers to have somewhere to live, so that they're not pushed out by secondary homes and vacation homes and multi-million dollar mansions,” she said.

The commission voted 2-1 to approve the annexation, with Lawson opposed. The approval carries some staff-recommended conditions, including completing a wetland study, widening the collector road to 70 feet, updating the concept plan so homes can’t be accessed via the collector road, performing an intersection study and having at least 50% of all homes in the development be owner-occupied units.

Locals can provide public comment on the Burton Ranch annexation when the proposal is heard by the Francis City Council.