Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Report of recent Planning Commission meeting:

The current "standard" development in Wasatch County is described in 16.27.09 and more specifically 16.27.10(2). (regrettably not available on the County Website) "Bonuses" above the "standard" of one house per 1.3 acres, with an average lot size of one acre, may be available at the discretion of Wasatch County by following procedures described in 16.27.10.

It appears that since the passage of the bonus system, virtually every development, as reflected by applications, expects to be able to attain the "full" allowable density of one unit per acre. The County Council and County Manager have repeatedly (and the Planning Staff has dutifully recorded in staff reports) stated that "a full density bonus will not be easy to attain. . . grading should be tough . . . and full density would need to be the best that could be proposed" (Or similar terminology)

At recent Planning Commission meetings in May and June, several developments were recommended by less than a unanimous vote that did not comply with the Land Use Law.

There are certain specific guidelines, requirements and objectives written into 16.27.10 concerning Rural Landscape Character, Open Space, cluster developments, etc. to attain any bonus density. Many (most) of the recent proposals did not meet the intent of the law, much less the actual wording thereof.

The problem of the requirement of 30% Open Space requirement now seems to be acknowledged and clarification are now being considered. The subjectivity and amount of the bonuses is now apparently being reconsidered.

I would again strongly suggest that approval of any development desiring densities above the standard be discouraged or not allowed for consideration. Any bonus density is at the sole discretion of the County as a legislative act in approving the development.

A few specific comments:

Eagle View: has open space but, while nominally contiguous, runs snake-like through the property and is of far more value to the development than the County as a whole.

Falcon Ridge: All but ten acres of the open space is unbuildable land, but receives credit and extra bonus. A substantial bonus is being suggested for "minimal" expense on landscaping, etc.

Grand Haven: It was approved last year at 91 ERU’s and failed to qualify under the previous ordinance for 131 ERU’s with 50% Open Space is now "qualified" with 30%. Base density increased by 11% and total by 44%. It has a large negative fiscal impact to the remaining County taxpayers (based on primary residences.)

Lakeside at Deer Valley: Previously had been awarded 62 ERU’s, a new request was made for an increase to 325 and they were awarded 362 per a last minute recommendation change from Planning Staff.

Pine Shadows was recommended by the Planning Commission to the County Councel without the required 30% Open Space. The developer was told by the Planning Commission that it was not needed, even thought the developer planned (an offered) to purchase additional open land elswhere.

Saddlebrook was approved with the standard density with a provision for a bonus if "fee in lieu" was adopted. It had NO proposed Open Space.

Sleeping Indian Ranch has brought us into the question of the desirability of the massive bonuses allowed in the M Zone, which effectively creates a denser (1 per 2.3 acre) zone the RA-5. While a nicely designed project with a ten acre park and proposed "fee" on land sales for a firehouse, it appears that multiple bonuses may have been given in several categories for the same items.

Summit Creek or Spring Hollow is another previously approved development (19 on 26 acres) to return to take advantage for the increased densities allowed under the new (RA-1 code.) Base density up 5% and total up 32 %. Again the bonuses proposed are for items that greatly benefit the development but add little to the County other than a trail, more houses and traffic and an increase in negative fiscal impact of $107,000 from the 19 original (may be partly due to parameters of the calculations)

Wasatch Commons in the North Village is requesting a change to the code because it is too restrictive to allow them to receive their "allowed" density under the current restriction. It has a negative fiscal of over $800,000 which is supposed to be offset by an adjoining commercial development which may produce over $800,000 if a "big box" is allowed (currently NOT allowed under County Code).

These are just developments under consideration by the Wasatch County Planning Commission for May and June, more to come in July and . . .
Heber City and Midway have also recently approve a bevy of annexations and subdivisions.

Click on the link for some of the developments approved Pre 2003 and in 2004-2006

Eagle View05/10/071617
Falcon Ridge06/14/0766102
Lakeside DV06/14/0736038
Pine Shadows05/10/072222
Sleeping Indian06/14/07151295
Summit Ck06/21/072526
Wasatch Commons05/10/07393112
Woods Cobblestone

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