LDS Development Project Builds Fears of gridlock

LDS Development Project Builds Fears of gridlock

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KIMBALL JUNCTION, Utah (AP) -- A plan to double commercial and residential development near the already gridlocked gateway to Park City is attracting the ire of area residents who want the proposal shelved.

The plan by Suburban Land Reserve to build about 600,000 square feet of commercial space, including 780 residential units, on 400 acres between the Factory Stores outlet mall and Utah Olympic Park is expected to add to existing traffic woes near the intersection of Interstate 80 and state Route 224. The area already is a nightmarishly hazardous place to drive, opponents said at a public meeting last week.

"This will generate the traffic of five super Wal-Marts. Our infrastructure can't support it," John Tuerff, president of Citizens Allied for Responsible Growth, told the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission, adding that the plan would overwhelm the region's highways.

But officials of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints say the project would ease the area's snarled traffic as well as boost Summit County's bottom line. The development by the church's real-estate arm also would provide affordable housing as well as more than 200 acres of open space and a trail system on the west side of state Route 224, SLR's President Mark Staples said.

A county planning map shows the proposed roads that would draw cars and trucks off jammed Landmark Drive, which parallels I-80 near the outlet mall and Wal-Mart. Those planned thoroughfares would bisect SLR's project and connect to state Route 224, bypassing clogged traffic at the Kimball Junction intersections.

The Planning Commission has not set a date to vote on the plan. If approved, the proposal would advance to the Summit County Commission for a public hearing and final vote.

But some residents remain skeptical about the size of the proposal and its impact on congestion.

Tuerff faulted planners for the density and heights of the proposed buildings, with some planned to reach between six and seven stories high. He said the structures would "encroach on the mountain environment."

Staples told commissioners his firm would contribute many amenities that would offset impacts, including nearly 400 acres of open space at a separate location in Round Valley along U.S. 40, east of Park City. And SLR would contribute $250,000 in "environmental enhancements" as well as up to $2 million for traffic upgrades beyond the roadways planned within the project.

"Our interest is to make a contribution to the resort economy," Staples said.

Although Snyderville Basin was down-zoned in December, SLR's "Town Center" project is grandfathered under 1998 zoning guidelines. The LDS Church has been pursuing development on the land for 13 years, Staples said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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