After 2 decades, Summit County officials still finalizing early plans for Lake Hill development

Impact study to be presented within the next few weeks

A rendering of the completed Lake Hill workforce housing project near Frisco shows what the development could look like when completed. Summit County staff is wrapping up an impact study, which will be presented to county and Frisco officials within the coming weeks.
Rendering from Summit County

Summit County officials are still in the early planning stages of the Lake Hill development, a workforce housing project that, according to its master plan, could put 436 units on the 45-acre property, though this number is yet to be solidified.

The Lake Hill development has been more than two decades in the making: The town of Frisco began inquiring about the parcel of land, which was formerly owned by the U.S. Forest Service, in 2000. In 2011, Summit County joined efforts to acquire the land by exploring various means to do so, such as through a land exchange or leasing the property.

In July 2014, the Lake Hill Administrative Site Affordable Housing Act was signed by former President Barack Obama directing the U.S. Forest Service to sell the parcel of land to the county so it could build affordable housing.

“It’s really cool, on some level, to say that it took an act of Congress to get this started, so now I think we need to continue to build momentum and get this project developed,” said Don Reimer, community development director for the town of Frisco. Reimer formerly was employed by Summit County from 2014 to 2020, when he worked on finalizing the acquisition of the property from the Forest Service.

In 2016, the county officially purchased the parcel and has since been working to make it developable.

“A development this size, it takes a long time to make sure that you have the infrastructure in place, to acquire the funding and get that in place,” Reimer said. “A lot of things need to happen for a development of this size to really get rolling.”

Jim Curnutte, community development director for Summit County, said this is a long process partly because it was Forest Service land that wasn’t originally intended to be developed.

“There’s a lot of work to do to entitle a property,” Curnutte said. “When we got it from the national forest, it had no development rights. It was national forest land, so it doesn’t have a right to even one single-family home on it. So we have to go through the entitlement process, or rezoning essentially.”

The 44.8-acre parcel of land for the Lake Hill workforce housing project is sandwiched between the Dillon Dam Road and Interstate 70. The county acquired the land in 2016.
Map from Summit County

Reimer said it is also a long process because the land is not prepared for development of any kind.

“A big part of that really is the infrastructure,” Reimer said. “Right now, there is no water service there for that property. It’s nearby because if you look at the map, the town of Frisco has a water tank up on top of the hill right above Lake Hill. There’s no sewer service nearby.”

In the past five years, Summit County completed a master plan for the area, which was done in 2017. In 2018, the county signed a contract with consulting firm Economic & Planning Systems to complete an impact study that examined how the development would affect public services and infrastructure as well as the local economy.

Though it likely won’t break ground for another two years at least, Reimer said when completed, it’ll fill a growing need for workforce housing within the county. Reimer said it made sense to turn the property into a lot for housing because of its proximity to water and road access. Plus, it’s one of the last open spots Frisco had to dedicate to workforce housing.

“Frisco’s a little bit landlocked,” Reimer said. “There’s not a lot of room for additional development, so I think it was about the last logical place for a fairly large project.”

The next steps are for officials from Summit County and the town of Frisco to review the impact study, which could happen within the next few weeks. Reimer said he’s currently reviewing some portions and plans to work with his staff to make recommendations to the Frisco Town Council as far as what role the town will play in development.

In the meantime, Curnutte said his team, along with other county officials, is focused on moving the project forward.

“With our housing crisis, the Board of County Commissioners is really focused on addressing this issue more than ever, but still, even best case scenario, I can’t see us breaking ground out there in anything less than two years,” Curnutte said.

Lake Hill development timeline

Summer 2000: Town of Frisco begins inquiring about the Lake Hill property, which was owned by the U.S. Forest Service at the time. That same year, the town identified the land as an ideal spot for workforce housing.

December 2008: At the request of the Forest Service, the town of Frisco completed a Lake Hill Feasibility Study, which provided preliminary analysis for the area.

September 2009: At the request of the Forest Service, the town of Frisco hired Claffey Ecological Consultants to conduct an environmental existing conditions study at Lake Hill.

October 2011: At the request of the town of Frisco, Summit County took the lead in acquiring the Lake Hill property.

July 2014: The Lake Hill Administrative Site Affordable Housing Act was signed into law by former President Barack Obama directing the Forest Service to sell about 40 acres of the land to Summit County.

February 2016: The land is transferred from the Forest Service to Summit County.

May 2017: The master plan for the project is completed.

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