Dakota Pacific opposition launches fund ahead of contentious public hearing

PARK CITY, Utah — Organizers of, who are actively opposing the proposed Dakota Pacific project in front of the Summit County Council, are now focused on fundraising for a potential high-cost legal battle if the development is approved.

The project would bring 1,100 homes to the Kimball Junction area, along with a hotel and other businesses. In 2008, Summit County acquired the space and designated the area as a research park, solely for high-paying tech jobs. Dakota Pacific, the Salt Lake City real estate firm behind the project, is requesting the county change the land uses allowed under the current development agreement to allow for their project.

The opposition group has partnered with Clyde Snow, a Salt Lake City-based law firm.

“We have raised a sizable war chest from the community in less than 48 hours and are in a good position to launch a strong legal defense,” Mitch Solomon, one of the lead organizers, told TownLift.

“What we were most surprised by is the number of donations, confirming how widespread and strong the opposition to the project is.  Depending upon what happens on December 1 we may need to continue the fundraising to cover ongoing legal work, but we’re off to a very good start and we’re very appreciative of all of the donations we’ve received.”

Outside of legal expenses, the group plans to spend the money on efforts to generate awareness and involvement, including signs, fliers, SMS campaigns, and digital advertising.

Solomon would not comment on the legal basis for their opposition, saying that would become more clear following the Dec 1 public input session.

He said everyone involved is working on a volunteer basis and is not receiving compensation. In the case that the development is rejected by the county, they will possibly return the money to the donors or contribute it “to other worthy causes in the community.”

“We saw an enormous disconnect between what the council thought was best for the community, and what the community itself wanted,” Solomon said, in regards to the group’s motivation.

“The vast majority of people who are going to be impacted by this project had no idea it had been proposed, much less that it was close to being approved.  And the more people learned about the project, the stronger their opposition became.  Given the size and scale of the project, its huge negative impacts on the community, and the public’s lack of awareness about it, we felt compelled to get involved and to do whatever we could to ensure that it does not move forward.”

Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson declined to comment on their legal effort.

The developers and Summit County Council Chair Glenn Wright have argued that the project would push the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) to prioritize the rehabilitation of I-80 and SR 224.

“The state says we want this kind of development around transit,” said a member of Dakota Pacific at last week’s county council meeting. “We’re going to prioritize you with UDOT in order to do transit improvements in the area… Summit County is nowhere on the radar with UDOT.”

The county is looking at implementing a Housing and Transit Reinvestment Zone (HTRZ) into the agreement, a mechanism derived from the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity that would push UDOT to prioritize local improvements. However, the current agreement remains a work in progress.

At a county council meeting earlier this year, four out of five members of the council showed support for the project during an informal straw poll — Roger Armstrong being the single holdout. The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission recommended against the development last year.

The December 1 public input session about the Dakota Pacific project will take place at the Newpark Hotel Conference Center in Kimball Junction at 6 pm.

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