County Council set to appoint planning commissioners
March 8, 2011
The Summit County Council interviewed four men who applied for seats on the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission.
There are three vacancies on the Planning Commission. Commissioners Ken Henrie and Chris Ure are seeking reappointment. Eastern Summit County Planning Commissioner Jill Houston did not seek reappointment to the board. Her term of the Planning Commission ends this year.
Council members are scheduled to announce their decision on Wednesday.
"I honestly think this could be the most thankless job in the county," County Councilman John Hanrahan said.
Last Wednesday, members of the County Council interviewed Ure, Henrie, Sean Wharton and Mike Crittenden.
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Ure is the son of Summit County Councilman Dave Ure. Dave Ure left the room and did not participate when the County Council interviewed his son last week.
Chris Ure, a South Summit resident, was appointed to the Planning Commission to replace former Planning Commissioner KayCee Simpson. Simpson was removed from the Planning Commission a few years ago after he violated the attendance policy by missing too many meetings.
During the interview, Ure told councilpersons that in Summit County "private property rights get stepped on more than anything."
"I think we overlook property rights for open space and things like that," Ure said.
The development rules on the East Side do not allow landowners to build large enough projects on their property, he said.
"We’re kind of forcing people to keep things open that way," Ure said.
He said that new Planning Commission members face a steep learning curve.
"It’s very challenging to learn the codes and learn where this will work and this won’t work," Ure said. "It’s a time-consuming job and there is a lot of paperwork and things to go into it."
Despite land his family owns in Summit County, Ure said serving on the Planning Commission does not present any conflicts of interest.
Ure works at Ure Ranches.
The other incumbent seeking reappointment to the Planning Commission is North Summit resident Ken Henrie.
"I’ve learned a lot," Henrie said about his time on the Planning Commission. "I’ve found it gives me a sense of community."
Henrie said he is retired from a career at United Parcel Service.
One of the top issues facing the East Side of Summit County is growth, Henrie explained.
"The challenge is to make growth happen in a way that doesn’t deteriorate what we’ve got," he said. "Luckily we have clean air, clean water, the open spaces."
Responding to a question about trails, Henrie said many citizens say more public trails are not needed on the East Side of Summit County.
"I haven’t talked to anybody who lives in this area that wants a trail system put up Chalk Creek for instance," he said.
Some eastsiders are still not ready to welcome more bicyclists into the community, Henrie said.
Often cyclists take up too much space on the roadways, he told members of the County Council.
"The people don’t like it, they don’t like it at all," Henrie said.
This year was the first time South Summit resident Sean Wharton applied for a seat on the Planning Commission. Wharton is the operator of Gateway Grille in Kamas.
"I want to be involved," Wharton told members of the County Council. "There is no self-serving interest. I’m just a concerned citizen and I have lived here my whole life. It’s something that I have a lot of interest in."
He said he would consider supporting loosening the development codes to allow more projects to be built on the East Side.
"I think there is some demand that would create jobs We need to do something in order to keep spurring on our economic development," Wharton explained. "I would say the codes are probably fair, but they need to be utilized a little bit more."
He said he would like to see alternative energy like wind and solar power used more on the East Side.
"I think we need to look at these things," he said. "There are still a lot of opportunities out there."
North Summit resident Mike Crittenden said he has deeply held opinions about planning issues in the county.
"I have strong feelings but I think I play well with others," Crittenden said.
Crittenden was a member of the committee that recommended a few years ago that the form of government in Summit County change. Voters supported the recommendation and adopted the change.
Crittenden said that more mixed-use and commercial development may be needed on the East Side.
He also said that he is not opposed to public trails.
Crittenden owns a house and about 56 acres of land in North Summit. But he said he does not foresee having a conflict of interest if appointed to the Planning Commission.
Crittenden is employed by Pfizer.