Summit County town’s dream shows how it — and the rest of Utah — could grow differently

With visions of Daybreak, residents in tiny Hoytsville want to add more homes slowly while keeping a village feel for their rural community.

What could a small farming community in eastern Summit County teach the rest of Utah about growth?

A lot, it turns out.

A story published Sunday by The Salt Lake Tribune has revealed that nearly 25 of the largest landowners in the hamlet of Hoytsville — most of them multigenerational farmers with deep area ties — are selling their property en masse to developers.

[Read the full story: “See the town of 700 that could become the next Daybreak-style development.”]

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Land in Hoytsville, part of a village overlay development plan, on Tuesday, April 25, 2023.

Traditional farming, many of them say, is on a permanent decline in Summit County as large and small communities continue to add people. It’s that slow demise that is prompting them to sell.

But these longtime Hoytsville residents don’t want their combined 1,000 acres located at the heart of the town, population around 700, turned into a homogenous housing development. Instead, they want to create a village, one that grows incrementally while preserving green spaces and aspects of rural life even while building potentially thousands of new homes in the coming decades.

Having watched patchwork development patterns spread across nearby Park City and the Snyderville Basin, Hoytsville residents knew clearly what they didn’t want to happen, according to Mike Brown, the latest in his family to operate 70-year-old Brown Dairy, which is closing down after being sold.

(Ivory Homes / Larry H. Miller Real Estate) A draft map of the Cedar Crest Village Overlay, a development plan proposed for parts of Hoytsville in Summit County.

“As landowners,” Brown explained, “we said the next best thing we can do is either sell to the mega-wealthy — or we can be smart and build a community where people and families can live birth to death.”

Existing zoning patterns in the county have locked in large home lots in many rural areas that tend to make housing unaffordable for new generations.

“Do we keep exporting our kids,” asked Mike Crittenden, another Hoytsville landowner instrumental in the village concept, “because they can never afford to live here?”

Using a part of Summit County’s zoning code, Hoytsville’s legacy landowners have formed what’s called the Cedar Crest Village overlay for their property, a kind of proposed master plan for developing their acreage as a holistic community.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mike Brown walks Creamery Lane in Hoytsville on Tuesday, April 25, 2023.

They’ve partnered with some of the state’s top real estate developers — Ivory Homes, the largest homebuilder, and Larry H. Miller Communities, owner of master-planned Daybreak in South Jordan — to flesh out the village overlay and help press for county approval.

The plan still requires a hearing and scrutiny by the Eastern Summit County planning commission, with that panel’s recommendation to be forwarded to the County Council for ultimate review.

Some Hoytsville residents living outside the village boundary are wary that the plan will spur growth they fear could transform the tiny town before its time.

“It’s not going to be the little quiet place I grew up with,” said Kent Pace, a longtime resident along Hoytsville’s East Spring Canyon Road. “I don’t want these homes here. I do not want to see a shopping center.”

But there’s also a sense, Pace and others said, that the decline of farming and the inevitability of growth in Hoytsville have now converged — and that legacy property owners behind the village idea have a right to pursue it.

“You can’t blame them,” said Pace. “It’s a lot of work, sunup to sundown every day. So I can’t blame these people for doing what they’re doing. But like it? No, I can’t.”

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