Roger Armstrong (D) and Max Greenhalgh (R)
1. Please describe your background and why you are seeking a seat on the Summit County Council.
ARMSTRONG: I have lived in Aspen Springs in Park City with my wife, Beth, and my son, Brett, for seven years. I was raised in a small town in the Mojave Desert and attended college at the University of California, San Diego. I was a motion picture marketing executive and entered law school in mid-life. I am now an attorney in the motion picture and television industry; I negotiate contracts for individuals and companies. I currently serve on the Motion Picture Advisory Committee for the Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development, the Government Committee of the Utah Advisory Board for the Sundance Institute and the board of the Utah Film Center. I was a founding member of the Board of Trustees for Park City Day School and coached baseball for several seasons for Basin Recreation. I am the co-founder of the Park City Gun Club. Summit County faces substantial challenges from continued growth including traffic, transportation, energy, environmental health and water issues. I believe that I have the analytical skills to help develop a plan for meeting these challenges; the legal skills to help navigate the most problematic issues, and the commitment to the community to ensure all interests are represented.
GREENHALGH: While serving on the Basin Planning Commission from 1996 to 2005, my colleagues and I heard a constant plea—to keep growth from ruining what makes this place special. We responded by reducing densities 10 fold, clustering development away from sensitive lands, and concentrating growth in town, village and resort centers. The hard zoning we created gave people a sense of security and certainty. After I and other long tenured members of the Commission and staff left our positions, the County began making decisions based on what seemed expedient in the moment instead of the fully vetted principles in the General Plan and Code. There is considerable distrust over the County's handling of land use issues today. I am running to bring a steady hand to growth management and preserve and build upon the gains we achieved in halting suburban sprawl and preserving the qualities that make our community great. While serving on the Planning Commission and BOSAC, I helped preserve 5000 acres of open space and create 100 miles of trails. I have lived here 37 years because it is the best of all worlds and I want to keep it that way!
2. How do you plan to balance the county's budget while maintaining the level of services residents have come to expect, such as well-maintained roads, public safety and planning? For instance, would you consider raising taxes or do you think there are still ways to cut expenses without jeopardizing services?
ARMSTRONG: Tax increases should be a last resort and we must be diligent in our budgeting and spending process. Utah's Truth in Taxation requirement ensures that property tax revenues are stable from year to year; nevertheless, the entire country still faces substantial economic instability as we continue to climb out of the recession. The portion of our economy that relies on tourism may be affected by a troubled national economy. We need realistic forecasts and valuations in order to set our budgets appropriately. We need to search constantly for efficiencies in every department of County government – always asking whether we can perform any given task in a manner that reduces costs. We need to explore opportunities to share resources with the state, other counties or municipalities. State and federal grants represent another means of reducing the financial burden on the County and County staff needs always to explore possible grant sources.
GREENHALGH: In lean years like these, we should maintain the delivery of essential services by improving efficiencies and cutting waste. During economic slumps, most tax payers are hurting. When faced with budget constraints, we should tighten our belts and if necessary, be willing to cut back on non-essential services. We should always live within our means! We should always budget our expenses to be less than our expected revenues! Raiding the rainy day fund last year was a consequence of poor budgeting. The fund should only be used in cases of emergency resulting from a national catastrophe or local disaster. If elected, I will strive to replace the amount taken from the rainy day fund.
3. In light of the fact that the county's previous affordable housing plan has been revoked, do you believe it is the county's responsibility to encourage the construction of affordable housing through development incentives or should the market dictate what types of units are built? If affordable housing is important to the county, how would you propose ensuring it is built?
ARMSTRONG: Yes, a skilled local workforce provides workers that are invested in the community and reduces negative impacts such as traffic and air pollution. The County should have a plan to address workforce housing to ensure that targeted, affordable workforce housing is constructed as the need arises. I do not favor incentives as a means of inducing an increased supply of workforce housing; such incentives typically result in deviations from well-considered zoning limits. Instead, I believe we should make workforce housing a requirement of development but provide flexibility with respect to the satisfaction of the requirement. That flexibility helps the County and the developer work together to ensure that real needs are addressed. Such choices may include actual construction of workforce housing or fees in lieu of construction, allowing the County to address needs in areas outside of the particular development.
GREENHALGH: We should provide opportunities for the people that work here to live here. Of the 500 affordable units approved in recent years, 470 of them are appropriately located in town and village centers that I helped establish while serving on the Planning Commission and BOSAC. The other 30 are part of a 105 unit complex approved on a fragile mountain-side with a density 40 times higher than allowed in the underlying zone. I helped lead the fight to repeal the ordinance that allowed this project, which was not consistent with our General Plan and Code. For the most part, I support the new legislation which requires affordable housing to be built for each development. I helped persuade the Planning Commission to allow the affordable housing to be located off-site in mixed use communities where residents can walk to work and shop, and find more opportunities for social interaction.
4. Are the needs of the East and West sides of Summit County being equally addressed, if not what would you do to remedy that? If elected what specific issues would you target in order to cater to their diverse interests?
ARMSTRONG: Eastern and Western Summit County face different challenges but they must be addressed together to preserve the quality of life in the entire County. Eastern Summit County wants to preserve values and lifestyles they have enjoyed for generations. The West culture seems to evolve constantly, as new residents from around the country continue to move here. Positive and negative effects of rapid and substantial growth affect the West, while Eastern County residents struggle with their own unique growth issues. Eastern city officials want commercial growth for economic reasons, while citizens are concerned about how that growth will affect their lifestyles and cultures. The Planning Commission needs to work with Eastern County citizens and municipalities to determine if the Development Code and General Plan need to be revised to meet their current needs. We need a global growth strategy in Summit County for the benefit of all County residents and businesses.
GREENHALGH: We should invite an entity such as Envision Utah to help citizens choose how to grow their communities and establish strategies to achieve their objectives. We should mitigate impacts of growth occurring in the Park City area on the rural communities. Our mission should be to preserve the natural environment, vitalize our cities and resorts, and maintain the rural, mountain character of our communities.
I believe in self-determination. Each community should have opportunities to preserve and enhance their quality of life. The County should provide essential services to all, and when the citizens of one area want a specific service, they should be willing to pay for it. Summit County is unique in its diversity and rich cultural heritage. The one thread that knits us together is the desire to preserve our natural environment. Let's work together to preserve what makes our communities great and celebrate our diversity!
5. What role, if any, should the county play in the acquisition and preservation of open space?
ARMSTRONG: Open space is a critical element of our lifestyle in all of Summit County; preservation of key areas of open space is clearly a priority for the County Council. The Summit County area is highly attractive to developers and that will lead to continuing conflicts between advocates for open space and advocates for continued development. We will need to use all the tools at hand to preserve open space, which includes working with private land conservation organizations such as the Summit Lands Conservancy, development of a formalized transferred development rights process that will enable the County to preserve sensitive areas by shifting the development rights to more appropriate parcels and, in some cases where appropriate, using County funds to purchase open space. I believe the latter should occur only after substantial public input and hearings to ensure that the County Council has a clear mandate from Summit County citizens.
GREENHALGH: The desire to preserve the natural environment binds all segments of the community.
In my 15 service on the Basin Planning Commission and BOSAC, I helped preserve 5000 acres of pristine lands through zoning, density transfers, and voter approved bonds. The hillsides north of Kimball Junction were preserved by clustering densities in Blackhawk Station and over the ridge into Glenside. Iron Mountain and Murdock Peak were preserved via the Canyons approval. The densities of three vested projects were transferred into Canyons and all three were added to Swaner Preserve.
The proceeds of two bonds have preserved over 3,000 acres including Hi Ute Ranch, Round Valley, Quarry Mountain, Rasmussen Draw (east of Jeremy), and the PRI parcel at Kimball's. The preservations have kept our community special and provided 100 miles of trails. We should continue to preserve sensitive lands, protect view corridors, and provide connectivity between opens space parcels and neighborhoods.
6. The county was recently involved in a controversy about the development of a film studio at Quinn's Junction. In that instance, the developer tried to get around local land use regulations by asking the state Legislature to create a special zone to accommodate his development. The county ended up compromising its stand through a legal settlement with the landowner. How do you feel about the way that issue was handled? What would you have done differently?
ARMSTRONG: Because I was not involved in that process, I am not inclined to criticize the actions of the Council without knowing the facts. I have opposed the film studio at Quinn's Junction from the time the project was announced. For a variety of economic reasons related to film production in Utah, I do not believe that the Quinn's studio project will be a successful venture and, from the initial discussions with the County, I have been deeply concerned that the community will be left with three soundstages that are under-used or not used at all and that the developer will seek approval from Park City for another commercial use. I was particularly concerned that the State legislature would threaten to override County zoning, building and planning processes in order to force the project through. I think the County needs to vigorously resist any such intervention by the State legislature.
GREENHALGH: The secret settlement was made after the County's insurance carrier refused to cover the suit. The County claimed it settled because it feared the State Legislature might intervene. If that were the case, why wasn't the application presented to the County Planning Commission? Our State Legislators affirmed there never was a bill to intervene. Neither was there a credible vested rights claim. If elected, I will try to get to the bottom of this matter. It illustrates the need for a steady hand in growth management. I've walked that walk: As Basin Planning Commission Chair I pushed Empire Canyon into the City; wrote the General Plan provisions mandating joint City/County planning of areas surrounding the City; helped preserve Quarry and Iron Mountains at Park City's entrance; and voted “No” to zoning requests for Round Valley, setting the table for Park City to purchase that property. I support our cities!
7. Is the county's new council/manager form of government working or was the previous commission more effective? How do you plan to go about making the county council more efficient and representative of its constituents?
ARMSTRONG: I favor Summit County's new council-form of government. Summit County experienced remarkable growth in the last decade, and the three commissioner form of government was incapable of keeping up with the complexities and volume of the workload; it was becoming difficult to govern effectively. The new form is only four years old; structural issues still need to be addressed, but it is already more efficient. We need to increase transparency and to find a way to involve the public in discussion, but the public also has to engage early and regularly in issues before the Council or the Planning Commission. We need a better notice procedure concerning matters before the Council so the public can engage. I also recommend exploring better ways of identifying and disclosing potential conflicts of interest between individuals in County government and individuals or companies with matters before them.
GREENHALGH: The Council/Manager form of government should promote efficiencies and professionalism. The downside is citizens feel insulated from elected officials. I view the proper roles as follows:
Council—should set policy and objectives and retain oversight of all non-elected departments.
Manager—should implement the policies and decisions of the Council and run the day to day operations of government in a professional and efficient manner.
Staff—should strive to provide the manager and council professional and unbiased information.
Legal—should provide accurate information and unbiased opinions.
The manager, staff, and attorneys sometimes have their own agendas. The CORE Zone, which clearly was not consistent with the General Plan and Code, is a startling example of decisions made from faulty assumptions and biased advice. If elected, I will ensure all government officials are on the same page in serving our constituents.
8. Please list your top policy priorities and differentiate your platform your opponent.
ARMSTRONG: Development, transportation, open space and water issues require careful stewardship as Summit County grows. We must manage growth and development to protect and contribute to the health, safety and welfare of all Summit County residents, and maintain our incredible natural resources, values and lifestyles. We must budget and spend within our means through realistic economic assessments and a commitment to live within our budgets while providing effective and efficient services. We must be visionary in our long-range planning to manage the inevitable transportation and pollution issues that come with growth. Sustainability of our land, wildlife and energy is good for our lifestyle and our economy, and Summit County should be a leader in sustainable carbon emissions control, recycling and green building practices. My opponent and I have very different skill sets. I have more significant leadership, experience and vision to lead Summit County forward. I have the legal knowledge and experience required to work successfully and meaningfully with Council and staff when the County faces legal challenges or difficult negotiations. When you vote, ask yourself which candidate has the best skills and training to perform at the highest level on the County Council. Please vote for me.
GREENHALGH: There is considerable dissatisfaction with growth management in the County. We would be better off had the County followed the Planning Commission's recommendations to reject the Discovery Core project and re-configure the Boyer building. Commissioners were coerced by staff to recommend a project they opposed. Two Commissioners were denigrated over the radio. And, a secret settlement resulted in the studio debacle.
What distinguishes me is a proven record of making positive differences in managing growth in the County. For 17 years I have served on the Basin Planning Commission and BOSAC. I helped create the hard zoning, smart growth management plan citizens have widely supported. I preserved 5000 acres of open space and created 100 miles of trails. I negotiated the Canyons agreement; Willow Creek open space, trails, and park; $1,000,000 in developer contributions to the School District; and density transfers of 3 development parcels that subsequently were added to Swaner Preserve. I helped bring citizens together to establish a vision for our community and then created strategies to achieve it. I will bring a steady hand to growth management. If you are passionate about keeping this place special, please join this campaign and vote for me November 6. (firstname.lastname@example.org)