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Development codes to be refined

SUMMIT COUNTY – A bundle of proposed amendments to Summit County’s land use and development code could help simplify the review process for smaller projects, saving time and money, according to county planners. Countywide density transfers are partially addressed by the changes, as is the review process for major development projects. New language is more restrictive in some instances, including the way building heights are measured, as well as a codified application of building and disturbance envelopes, said planning director Jim Curnutte. But at the same time, changes to the process should make some development applications easier for everyone involved, Curnutte said.”We’ll be able to do more approvals in-house,” Curnutte said. As an example, he said the code changes would make it easier to get approval for an accessory apartment. Rather than going through a full-blown public hearing process, applicants could get approval from planning staff, provided they meet the basic code provisions for accessory apartments.Another change eases restrictions on uses in setbacks. That means it would be easier to put in a hot tub or a shed for some property owners, Curnutte said.Currently, the county’s development code includes 25 separate development review processes, which planners have boiled down into six classes of applications. Under the proposed changes, staff planners could internally handle duplex site plans, backcountry site plans, as well as condo maps and townhouse plans.Countywide TDRs?Another small change to the existing language could start opening the door for density transfers between basins, Curnutte said. Essentially, planners want to strike a sentence that currently forbids the inter-basin density transfers.The idea is that, if developers want to add density to a parcel in the Ten Mile Basin, for example, they could bring it in from a backcountry mining claim in the Snake River Basin or from a rural property in the Lower Blue. But the density bank in the Upper Blue would still be off limits outside that basin, Curnutte explained.”We’ve never had a density transfer in the Lower Blue or the Ten Mile Basin because the language is so restrictive,” Curnutte said. Removing the restrictions is only the first step toward developing a comprehensive countywide TDR program, involving a rewrite of the existing three TDR programs. One of the factors that complicates countywide TDRs is the difference in the relative value of development rights, Curnutte said.For example, land values in the Lower Blue are so high that any transfer would likely need to include some sort of density bonus, Curnutte said. What that bonus might look like – a 1-to-5 density upgrade, for example -remains to be determined as the planning department works on the TDR program.The amendments will be up for a public hearing Oct. 11 in front of the Board of County Commissioners.Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228 or at bberwyn@summitdaily.com.


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