Summit County again solicits public insights on Lake Hill project

During an open house event in April, Summit County staff and its development partners fielded questions and took public input about how the Lake Hill workforce-housing site should be developed. On Wednesday, June 29, the county will do so again, asking the local community for feedback on how it applied those requests to the ongoing master plan process.
Ben Trollinger / |

Work on the blueprint for Summit County’s hallmark workforce-housing project continues, and the primary decision-makers and their design firm are again coming to the community for advice.

County officials have called the almost 45-acre Lake Hill property — located northeast of Frisco between Dillon Dam Road and Interstate 70 — a defining residential enterprise and now, as they move forward in the master plan process, desire further local input. They’ll host a second open house concerning the site Wednesday, June 29, to take thoughts on next steps in order to influence conceptual plans.

“This will be kind of the first meeting where there are some ideas on paper that start to provide options for how the property could be developed,” said Kate Berg, Summit County senior planner. “These are just the very first drafts of our ideas, so they’re certainly not set in stone. That’s why it’s really important for people to come and take a look and give us feedback.”

Housing in Summit — and throughout the mountain resort communities — that is both available and affordable remains a hot commodity. It’s why when the county was able to acquire the Lake Hill site from the White River National Forest late last year through a complex federal process that even required President Obama sign off on the purchase, it jumped at the chance.

“The needs are so large in the county,” Gary Martinez, county manager, previously told the Summit Daily. “We really need to challenge ourselves to make this the best we can possibly have, to maximize the value.”

So constructing this vital swath of land, which cost the county $1.75 million, into its most useful end-product is what everyone has on their minds. After the formation of a stakeholder advisory committee, assemblage of focus groups and the first open house in April — now having interacted with no fewer than 250 people — the county is ready show off its wares.

Meeting Quota

The pair of layouts on display Wednesday from 5-7 p.m. at the Summit Community and Senior Center in Frisco (83 Nancy’s Pl.) will show similar design plans but with some important tweaks. Their primary differences are the division of space for multi-family versus single-family homes, and the amount of parking needed to correspond with that degree of development. Essentially, more units means more parking.

“The two concepts show the same overall road network,” said Berg, “but they just show different ways of building out the neighborhood within this overall framework. People can see that if we end up doing more multi-family, this is what it’s likely going to look like; if we end up doing less multi-family and more lower-density, single-family and townhomes, this is what it will look like. And people can tell us what’s there preference — what do they think is more appropriate for the site.”

One plan imagines 403 total units, 255 of which would be multi-family apartments, while the other fits in another 27 units for a total of 430, where 340 are stacked apartment-style living. Both draft designs emphasize a large greenbelt running through them for full public use as well as a centralized community center with potential child care, estimated at 12,000-square feet.

The 73 surveys from about 150 attendees at the April open house showed the public’s desire for mixed-income neighborhoods and both rental and ownership options, as well as styles of homes. Concerns over parking and traffic, particularly on the Dam Road, in addition to the availability of amenities like storage and laundry and access to open spaces, the area trails system and regional transit were consistent requests.

That assisted the architectural minds at Norris Design in Frisco with coming up with a group of guiding principles in which to divvy up the land. Keeping the Lake Hill property compatible with other area structures and also creating the greatest possible benefits for the greatest number of people — all while keeping it affordable to a variety of economic levels — are chief among them.

Further Developments

In the time since that first open house, Corum Real Estate Group and its consortium of partner organizations have also been studying the land extensively, recognizing that just better than 45 percent of the property is unusable predominately due to its gradient; so how the space that is viable is erected is that much more important. With approximately two parking spaces per unit and 30 percent dedicated to open space, as laid out, only about 7 percent will go toward actual housing structures.

“They’ve really been analyzing the site,” added Berg, “looking at the topography, looking at all of the studies that have been done. The plans that we’ve laid out have taken into account all these aspects that we need to think about, as far as the slope, as far as the water and sewer capacity and the traffic needs and all of that.”

After a final infrastructural estimate is set by July 1, the next question once the design plan itself is settled upon by no later than September is how to phase the massive project and whether to install infrastructure first or do that in stages, as well. From the county’s perspective though, the sooner units are move-in ready, however, the better.

There’s also the matter of some additional land to the east of the property — the so-called “Lake Hill II” — that the Forest Service still owns, but the county may also be able to pry from the federal agency. Summit has already expressed its initial interest in obtaining this adjacent acreage if possible, and a collaborative effort between the two may ultimately be what develops that area, too. For now, the current master plan keeps open the option open for a road to connect through the two.

That’s a potential path to be traveled at a later point. Meanwhile, the county encourages residents to show up on Wednesday in Frisco to once more help in steering the build out of their local community with developments in the Lake Hill design process.

“At this stage of the game,” said Berg, “we just want people to see what we have done with the input they’ve given us. We would like to get the community’s direction on whether or not we are on the right track.”

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