Newcomers be advised: This is farm country, now and for all time.
Subject to a near-relentless development boom during the past few years, the east side of Summit County as of last week is under a new land-use code that limits subdivision sprawl, favors barnyard culture and ends a six-month construction moratorium.Between 80 and 90 percent of the area has been "downzoned," said Doug Dotson, county planner, who said the law is meant to keep development clustered in small towns.
The ordinance, adopted unanimously by the three-man County Commission, also puts new residents - especially the citified ones - on notice they're in an agricultural world with agricultural ambience.
"We're letting people who move into the rural areas of Summit County know that they could be affected by noise, smells, cattle going down the road," said County Commissioner Tom Flinders.
Property owners before being issued a building permit also will now have to sign a memorandum stating they understand services are limited.
The requirement is meant to head off criticism by some new arrivals who have complained that things aren't up to urban stan-dards.
"We've had people say, `Now that we're here, put us in a fire engine out here or pick up our garbage like they do in the city,' " said Commissioner Jim Soter. "But we're not keyed up for that, and we don't want to be."
Flinders said the new code is designed largely to contain a residential-development boom from Kamas to Wanship, fed by spillover from the Snyderville Basin north of Park City. The area affected, however, includes every valley between Woodland and Henefer and the rugged land of the High Uintas along the southwest corner of Wyoming.
"It's not only growth management," added Soter. "It preserves the agricultural continuity of the area so our farms don't get gobbled up by development."
The county in 1993 adopted a land-use ordinance for the Snyderville Basin that was considered one of the most stringent in the West. The one adopted Monday for areas to the east is even more sweeping in some regards, limiting subdivisions to well-traveled roads and curbing the number of houses in the county's high country, formerly zoned for one home per 40 acres.
The code notes four major land-use categories:
- A "highway corridor zone" that allows half-acre lots in most valleys.
- A one-dwelling-per-40-acre zone that applies to some off-highway areas.
- A one-house-per-100-acre zone for more remote locales.
- A zone that applies to private property within U.S. Forest Service boundaries and allows one home per 160 acres.
The law contains a grandfather clause that permits most already-approved subdivisions but excludes those where there has been no building activity for 12 years.
"It's really set up to protect and promote the small-town rural environment people want to maintain up here," said Dotson.
Though Soter said commissioners acknowledged some developers won't like the changes, he said little resistance surfaced among the area's farming community and its landowners.
"It's what people wanted," said Soter.