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Lake County's Wellness Way plan changed to Urban Service Area

Lake County's formerly state-derailed Wellness Way development plan for a 25-plus square-mile chunk of the county's southeast corner has a better chance of moving forward now with an urban service approach.

Instead of seeking to create and secure state approval for a development plan called a "Sector Plan," the Department of Economic Opportunity suggested that Lake County plan for the area's future by planning it as an "Urban Service Area."

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In the end, using Sector Plan guidelines for the development proved to be the wrong tool. The state labeled Lake County's Wellness Way's application in "non-compliance" because it didn't and couldn't provide the level of detail about the development necessary by state statute.

"It was very difficult to get it approved as a Sector Plan," said Robert Chandler, Lake County's economic development and tourism director. "Sector Plans are for a single large land holder, like Plum Creek or Deseret Ranch."

Single owners can definitively plan what they want where on their land, a requirement of sector plans.

But such detail would be next to impossible to provide for Wellness Way, which has some 90 owners on its 16,200 acres. It would force the county to decide where to put commercial land or homes or businesses, something that could prove a boon for some landowners and a bust for others.

"We want the market to decide. If we did that we would be picking winners and losers," said Chandler, creating greater or lesser land values because of their decisions.

So the state suggested that Lake County take a different route to plan the future for the Southeast edge of Lake County by developing it under Urban Service Area.

"We have a settlement agreement in principal with the state (Department of Economic Opportunity)," said Chandler.

The changes made to the plan "are for all practical purposes effectively the same" as they were before, Chandler said.

The Lake County Commission is scheduled to vote on Dec. 15, to eliminate the brand of non-compliance the state stamped on the project in September. On Jan. 5, it will vote once more on the plan.

On Jan. 19, the commission is scheduled to vote on adopting the new Urban Service Area plan.

Teresa Burney can be reached at teresaburney4@gmail.com or at 352-455-1955. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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