Key City Hall figure will resign
September 22, 2009
Jack Thomas, the chairman of the Park City Planning Commission, has tendered his resignation from the influential panel, saying he must spend additional hours on the job at his architectural firm.
He will remain on the Planning Commission as the Park City Council considers his replacement, but it was unclear early in the week when the elected officials will name someone for the position.
Thomas has been a member of the panel since mid-2004. His current term runs through mid-2012. Thomas said he has a "certain amount of regret" in stepping down, saying he would have liked to have continued to participate in the Planning Commission discussions.
"As you might imagine, in this day and age, I have to focus more attention on my business," Thomas said.
Thomas, who lives in Park Meadows, mounted a brief campaign for the Park City Council this year, ending his bid for elected office shortly after filing campaign papers.
He served on the Planning Commission during a post-Olympic era when the development community enjoyed a booming few years before the recession cut deeply into the industry. The Planning Commission during his time on the panel has been busy with several significant development proposals, wide-ranging discussions about City Hall’s development rules and a series of smaller projects that have proved difficult.
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Thomas said he has strived to bring a "more holistic approach" to Planning Commission processes.
He has been a Planning Commissioner, meanwhile, as the Sweeney family has become entangled in difficult talks with the panel and an opposition movement about the Treasure development proposal on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort close to Old Town streets like Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue.
The Sweeneys have spent more than five years in negotiations with the Planning Commission about Treasure, and it appears some of the panel members remain skeptical that the project will fit as designed.
Thomas said people following the discussions should not pin the lengthy timeframe on the Planning Commission.
"I certainly wouldn’t blame the Planning Commission if there hasn’t been progress," Thomas said.
He declined to discuss the Treasure proposal in depth, however. The Sweeneys are scheduled to appear in front of Thomas and the other Planning Commissioners on Wednesday for another discussion and hearing.
Thomas said he would have liked to have been a Planning Commissioner as the panel delves into City Hall’s General Plan, an overarching document that guides growth in Park City. He said he anticipates testifying during hearings about alterations to the General Plan.
The City Council is considering a process to replace Thomas. Options include selecting a new Planning Commissioner from a field of people who applied for recent openings on the panel or seeking a new group to select from. A timeline has not been finalized.
Thomas will be the second consecutive chairman of the Planning Commission to resign midterm. Michael O’Hara, his immediate predecessor as the chairman, resigned in 2008 worried about City Hall’s growth policies.
Mayor Dana Williams said Thomas "brought a very good perspective to the Planning Commission." The mayor said a spot on the Planning Commission is a tough assignment, explaining that much of the panel’s work is handling differing interpretations of development rules.
"That is the toughest commission and in a lot of cases, more difficult than the City Council," Williams said.