After years of work on a Snyderville Basin General Plan update, the Planning Commission is still grappling with the plan's basic purpose: whether it is an advisory or regulatory document.

In previous Planning Commission meetings, citizens expressed concerns that the General Plan doesn't have enough "teeth" and should be more regulatory.

"The last meeting was encouraging," Summit County Community Development Director Don Sargent said. "The comments were positive and constructive. That's where we need to be going. We need work together to get things accomplished in a positive and constructive manner, and eliminate the condescending remarks towards the Planning Commission or staff or others in the county. I hope we can move more in that direction."

Sargent added that the state code defaults to an advisory General Plan, and that in making it regulatory, the General Plan essentially becomes a Development Code rather than a visionary document.

"So we took that approach going into the updates to our General Plan," he said. "We still have that perspective. The General Plan serves as the visionary document for the Basin. Its advisory nature allows for more opportunity and flexibility to include language that captures the community's character, desires, goals, policies and objectives that the citizens want to see achieved."

The Development Code is the regulatory, or enforceable, document that enables the county to achieve the objectives of the General Plan, Sargent added.

During a previous Planning Commission meeting, after hearing concerns from residents about the advisory nature of the General Plan, the commission directed Summit County staff to research the issue further.

"The approach staff took at the meeting was that the General Plan was advisory in nature, and generally I think most of the people in attendance understood that," Sargent said. "So the county staff and Planning Commission are very interested in making sure that any regulatory language in the existing general plan would be transferred, which we proposed to do, directly into the Development Code."

Sargent said the process would not be difficult if they use the existing language proposed by staff in the Development Code.

"We could do that fairly simply," he said. "But if we have to include additional language, that can be a big task. But it doesn't have to happen right now. That can be in the future as we are able to tackle it."

The concern with transferring language from the General Plan to the Development Code was that there may be a time lag between the adopting of the General Plan and the adopting of the Development Code with the new language.

"So we had this discussion that perhaps we could do both simultaneously, meaning updating the General Plan while at the same time amending the Development Code," he said. "Right now, the key is to not lose any language existing in the General Plan that is important to the community. That language needs to be included in the Development Code at the same time the updates are adopted. I certainly support that and think it's a good approach."

Sargent said the goal of staff and the Planning Commission is to move the General Plan update along quickly so the Planning Department can be prepared for forthcoming applications.

"This needs to be carefully and thoroughly drafted, but at the same time, the Planning Commission and staff feel we need to move as efficiently and fast as we can to get this into place so we can have something on the books," he said.

The Planning Commission opted to continue the discussion on regulatory versus advisory on Thursday, March 14 at 6 p.m. in the Summit County Health Building downstairs conference room, located at 650 Round Valley Drive in Park City.