Park City enlists help in absence of arrested attorney
October 13, 2018
City Hall has tapped an attorney well versed in planning and zoning issues in the state to assist the municipal government in the absence of a Marsac Building lawyer who remains on paid administrative leave as a result of her September arrest in Salt Lake County after hunting equipment was taken in a mountainous area outside of Summit Park.
The municipal government had previously retained Jody Burnett as City Hall's Treasure special counsel. He represented the municipal government's interests alongside City Hall attorneys during some of the crucial stretches of the Treasure discussions. He remains in the role as the Treasure special counsel.
Officials retained Burnett for broader duties after the arrest of Polly Samuels McLean, the assistant Park City attorney. She is the municipal attorney assigned to planning and zoning matters, and she regularly attended Park City Planning Commission meetings as part of her workload prior to the arrest.
Prosecutors in Salt Lake County early in the week charged Samuels McLean and her husband, Andrew McLean, who is well known for his skiing accomplishments, with two misdemeanors apiece — theft and criminal mischief.
Burnett attended a Park City Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday, occupying a seat that is typically used by Samuels McLean. A lengthy discussion about a developer's desire to operate an event space in the former location of the Kimball Art center was the highlight of the meeting. Burnett did not appear to have a significant role as the long-running discussions about the event space continued. He also attended a Historic Preservation Board meeting in early October, according to the Park City Planning Department.
Burnett specializes in planning and zoning law in the state and is seen in legal circles as a leading attorney in the field in Utah. A biography posted on his firm's website indicates he regularly gives addresses to local officials like city attorneys. The biography indicates local governments have hired him over the years to assist in drafting development agreements, an important step in negotiations between a government and a landowner.
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"He was already in that role for so many meetings with Treasure," Park City Attorney Mark Harrington said about Burnett's expanded duties at City Hall.
Harrington said Burnett will primarily cover Planning Commission meetings. He said it is unclear how long Burnett will spend in the expanded role. He said Burnett is familiar with City Hall planning and zoning rules.
"He hit the ground running," the city attorney said.
The Park City Council at the time in the spring of 2009 appointed Burnett the special counsel for Treasure. The appointment was made as the Park City Planning Commission and the Treasure side had already become locked in difficult discussions about the development proposal on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. Burnett was initially hired to dissect the 1980s overall approval of Treasure and nearby parcels of land. City Hall retained him in the role, though, as more talks about the proposal unfolded.
City Hall is evaluating information about the Samuels McLean case as it becomes available.
Samuels McLean's attorney, Tara Isaacson, this week did not discuss the case in any depth. She said Samuels McLean is cooperating with City Hall.