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CARG mulls candidates

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The head of Citizens Allied for Responsible Growth, the dominant development watchdog in Summit County, says he does not want the Park City Planning Commission stacked with developers.

However, the group does not plan to lobby the Park City Council as the elected officials prepare to select one person from a field of seven candidates for a spot on the Planning Commission.

Two developers are vying for the Planning Commission, and a builder is also seeking an appointment.

John Tuerff, who is the president of the board of directors of the watchdog, widely known as CARG, says he is not familiar with the work of Rory Murphy and Rob Morris, the two developers who in the Planning Commission field.

Tuerff says developers should be considered for the panel, but they should not rule the Planning Commission, an influential body that handles most projects in the city.

"If you got to the point a planning commission was dominated by developers, you could lose control of the process," Tuerff says, worried about the potential of sprawling projects if developers monopolized the panel.

Tuerff is unsure if CARG has ever formally opposed someone’s bid for any of the three primary planning commissions in Summit County, and he says he would be surprised if the group ever does so.

He prefers the area’s elected officials decide who sits on a planning commission and CARG monitor commissioners’ performance.

He says, however, a developer could assist the Planning Commission since the person has shepherded projects through the local approval process.

"Developers are familiar with all the challenges of building and certainly understand the process and can provide a good perspective," he says.

CARG started in the 1990s, and it was especially influential as City Hall considered Empire Pass, then known as Flagstaff, on the slopes of Deer Valley Resort. Before winning office in 2001, Mayor Dana Williams led the watchdog, and his political career is largely tied to his time leading CARG.

In recent years, though, CARG has spent much of its resources outside the city limits, pressing Summit County leaders about affordable housing, traffic in the Snyderville Basin and a development idea on land below the Utah Olympic Park, known as the Suburban Land Reserve project.

CARG continues to track Park City development, but the group has not been as aggressive in the city as it had been previously.

The City Council interviewed six of the seven Planning Commission candidates last week, and the last interview is scheduled Nov. 29. The elected officials could appoint one of the candidates the following week.

The person will replace Mark Sletten, a Planning Commissioner who vacated the seat. The term expires in 2009, about one-fourth the length of a full term.

With Murphy and Morris in the running, the spot has generated more buzz than past Planning Commission openings. Murphy is the developer of Silver Star on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort and he was an executive with United Park City Mines as the mining company secured the initial Empire Pass approvals. Morris was a major developer in the 1970s and 1980s, with The Yarrow and the Stein Eriksen Lodge among his well-known projects.

Tuerff says it is unlikely CARG will enter the discussions unless the group finds an appointment to be a "grievous" error.

"We like to encourage a broad spectrum from a community to participate in the process," he says.


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