New bill could directly benefit Dakota Pacific project

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah — A bill introduced in the Utah House today would directly benefit Dakota Pacific Real Estate (DPRE) and its application to amend a 15-year-old development areement if passed.

H.B. 446 Housing and Transit Reinvestment Zone Modifications, sponsored by Rep. Casey Snider, R-Cache, would give property owners near public transit hubs in counties with small public transit districts “certain vested development rights if the county failed to submit an application for a housing and transit reinvestment zone before a certain deadline.”

These “vested development rights” include “between 39 and 50 dwelling units per acre on average over the subject parcels, with at least 10% of the dwelling units deed restricted as affordable housing units; (ii) commercial uses including office, retail, educational, and healthcare.”

According to a statement from the Summit County Council, the only third-class county with a transit hub is Summit County, which sits adjacent to the DPRE project.

Richard Armstrong, Summit County Council chair, and his fellow council members were not surprised by the introduction of H.B. 446.

“We were warned by several sources prior to the start of the 2023 General Session that certain members of the legislature were keeping a close eye on the DPRE application process and were prepared to take the matter out of the County Council’s hands if it did not reach a resolution favorable to DPRE prior to the end of the session,” Armstrong said. “We are watching the bill and are hopeful that the majority of the legislators in the House and Senate will be inclined to respect local control of land use matters and will resist this horrible assault on local communities’ rights of self-determination.”

In 2008, the Boyer Company and Summit County began negotiating a development agreement to build a 1.3 million square foot tech research park at Kimball Junction, also known as the Park City Tech Center.

DPRE purchased the Park City Tech Center in late 2018. DPRE applied to amend the development agreement initially entered by the Boyer Company to turn the project into a high-density mixed-use project focused primarily on market-rate residential uses, fundamentally changing the original agreement.

The amendment application has met mixed public opinion as it has made its way through the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission and Summit County Council in recent years.

“The bill’s assault on local legislative land use control is unprecedented in that it is not targeted at an initial application for an unexecuted vested use, but rather at a 15-year-old, signed Development Agreement, that has already resulted in the transfer of open space, the building of affordable residential housing, and the construction of a building occupied by Skullcandy. In an unprecedented action, the legislature is seeking to legislate in conflict with an existing contract,” said a press release from the Summit County Council.

The Summit County Council has provided the following timeline for DPRE’s amendment application:

  •  February 15, 2023 – Work session with Zions Bank to better understand the application of a Housing and Transit Reinvestment Zone in Kimball Junction and possibly other areas of Summit County.
  • February 22, 2023 – Work session with DPRE to discuss DPRE’s and Summit County’s final issues concerning the proposed amended uses.
  • March 1, 2023 – Public Hearing concerning the DPRE Amendment Application.
  • March 8, 2023 – Public Hearing concerning the DPRE Amendment Application.
  • March 15, 2023 – Deliberation and possible decision concerning the DPRE Amendment Application.

“At the end of this process, the County Council will make a decision, and we will be satisfied that DPRE received a full and fair analysis of its proposed amended uses and that the public will have had the opportunity to learn about the proposed changes and to provide its input to both parties,” said Armstrong. “We hope that our legislators will recognize the danger of destroying local control, even in matters where the legislature has strong feelings for supporting an applicant.”

DPRE issued the following statement on H.B. 446, stating that the company will continue to follow the legislative process:

“Dakota Pacific supports proposed changes to the Housing and Transportation Reinvestment Zone legislation to encourage compliance by local governments, including Summit County, and to expedite the development of urgently needed affordable housing near major transportation hubs like Kimball Junction. Utah’s housing crisis is a statewide issue in which counties have a vital role to play.”

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