Figure in controversial housing project seeks Planning Commission seat |

Figure in controversial housing project seeks Planning Commission seat


The Park City Planning Commission listens during a Wednesday night meeting that covered a variety of topics. Ten people are vying for a position on the panel. The Park City Council is expected to conduct interviews with the field in October. Jay Hamburger/Park Record

A figure in a controversial Old Town housing proposal submitted his name as a candidate for appointment to the Park City Planning Commission, the influential City Hall panel that has started its discussions about the project and is expected to ultimately cast a crucial vote on the matter.

Jeff Werbelow acknowledges his role in a group called GreenPark Cohousing, LLC in his application for the Planning Commission appointment. The acknowledgement was made in response to a question about someone’s involvement with City Hall.

Werbelow’s role with Greenpark Cohousing does not prohibit him from serving on the Planning Commission. He would be expected to not participate in the Planning Commission discussions and vote about the project if he is appointed, though. Planning Commissioners must voluntarily withdrawal from discussions about properties or projects in which they have a stake. The situation only occasionally occurs, and it is rare for a Planning Commissioner to be directly involved in a project, as would be the case with Werbelow.

He is part of a small group of people tied to GreenPark Cohousing, an organization that is seeking the approval of what would be the first cohousing development in Park City. The overarching theory of cohousing holds that people who intend to live in a development have a significant role in its designs. Cohousing also promotes the idea of communal living.

The group that involves Werbelow earlier reached a $400,000 agreement to purchase City Hall property on the 1400 block of Park Avenue for the project. The deal has not yet been finalized.

There has been opposition from people with properties nearby. They have argued that the project is too densely packed for the site and it would bring down nearby property values, among other concerns. The Planning Commission does not appear close to being ready to cast a vote, meaning that if Werbelow is appointed he would almost certainly be a member of the panel during the height of the discussions and the vote.

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Werbelow, who lives in Park Meadows, said in his application he has lived in the Park City area since 1998 and has worked in the related fields of construction management, real estate development and zoning entitlement. He is trained as a lawyer, he said.

"Park City is truly unique due to its rich history. I have great interest and reverence in helping our town maintain its historic perspective and aesthetic," he said in the application.

Werbelow also said the City Hall process is "too slow — not enough customer service; there is an us vs them mentality."

Werbelow is one of 10 people seeking appointment. Three terms are expiring. Two of the incumbents — Charlie Wintzer and Brooke Hontz — are seeking reappointment. The other incumbent, Jack Thomas, is a candidate for mayor and did not submit an application.

The Park City Council is expected to conduct interviews with the Planning Commission field in October. It is not clear when the selections will be made or announced. The four-year terms begin in January.

The Planning Commission has long been seen as ranking second in importance of all of City Hall’s panels, trailing only the City Council. The Planning Commission casts the final vote on a range of development applications.

Highlights from the other applications include:

  • Wintzer lives in the Rossi Hill neighborhood and has served on the Planning Commission for eight years. He is married to Mary Wintzer, a City Council candidate. In his application, Wintzer said he wants to continue serving on the Planning Commission as documents like City Hall’s General Plan and Land Management Code are molded to fit the vision for the community. He also wants to "get a better handle on mass and scale in Old Town," the application says.
  • Hontz lives in Old Town and has served on the Planning Commission for four years. She acknowledges in the application she is married to City Hall’s economic development manager, Jon Weidenhamer. In her application, Hontz talks about a career in planning and managing projects. The work, she said, has "provided me with direct knowledge of resort communities in the western US and around the world." She said important issues include transportation planning that addresses traffic and mass transit as well ensuring planning documents like the Land Management Code and General Plan are harmonized.
  • Steve Joyce lives in the April Mountain neighborhood and has lived in Park City for seven years. He said he retired early after owning a successful business and has time to serve the community. Joyce said in the application he enjoys the issues in Park City.

    "The Planning Commission plays a key roll in the success of a town like Park City, whose reputation and popularity depend on being able to provide controlled, guided growth," Joyce wrote in the application.

    Joyce said important issues in Park City include major projects such as Treasure, Bonanza Park and the expected eventual development of the Deer Valley Resort parking lots outside Snow Park Lodge. Joyce said Bonanza Park "could be a huge boost to Park City if it is built as a livable community."

  • Preston Campbell lives in Thaynes Canyon and has lived in the Park City area since 2002. He said in the application he is a builder familiar with City Hall’s planning and building processes.

    Campbell said key issues for the Planning Commission include work force housing, oftentimes also referred to as affordable housing, transit-parking and sustainability, including land conservation.

    "Our entire community should be involved in making sure there is a way for the people who work here to live here. I don’t want to see Park City become a haven for the ‘haves’ while the ‘have nots’ are forced to commute from ever further worker colonies," he said in the application.

  • Alexander Lopez-Wilson lives in Prospector and has lived in Park City for six months. He said he works at Canyons Resort and a restaurant on Main Street. He said in the application he wants to advance "Park City as a modern American ski town." He grew up in Jackson, Wyo., one of Park City’s mountain resort competitors.

    Issues he sees as important include affordable housing, development on Main Street and Park City Mountain Resort. He said the lawsuit between PCMR and its landlord is a "position of major tension in the Park City community," indicating he has experience with leases at a mountain resort in Wyoming. That experience leads him "to believe that this issue will find resolution," he said.

  • John Phillips lives in Old Town and has lived in Park City for 12 years. He said he is a business owner who hopes Park City continues to be a desirable community for Parkites and visitors. He also wants the city to be "a place where families can create communities that thrive along side the tourism and seasonal economics that are also apart of Park City." Phillips said in the application he is a general contractor.

    He said issues of importance to the Planning Commission include completing the update of the General Plan, preserving historic structures and balancing full-time Parkites with the seasonal population.

    "I would like to see a general plan that continues to recognize the unique neighborhoods within Park City and that capitalizes on each neighborhoods strengths, instead of creating narrow guidelines to try to make them all fit into," he said in the application.

  • Jordan Shabot lives in Park Meadows and has lived in Park City for one year. He either works for the St. Regis Deer Valley or has in the past, according to the application. He said he was "active in" the discussions about SkiLink, an idea to connect Canyons Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort with a gondola, but he did not indicate a position.

    Shabot said in the application he has experience in luxury hotels and the hospitality industry, having lived in Palm Beach, Fla., and Telluride, Colo. He said he was a member of a planning committee in Telluride and unsuccessfully sought elected office in the municipal government in Palm Beach.

    Shabot said the "availability of low income housing" and protecting Park City’s history are important issues.

    "Resort towns relies heavily on low income seasonal workers. Having sufficent affordable housing will ensure businesses have a work force needed to prosper. Any large scale new development should address this need when entering our community," he said.

    He also said the expansion of the mountain resorts is an important issue, indicating the three local resorts "have expressed a desire to expand or interconnect the resorts."

    "Ski resort expansion and interconnecting will make Park City the preimer ski destination in US, but must be done responsibly," he said.

  • Steven Swanson lives in Park Meadows and has lived in the city for 15 years. He served on City Hall’s Historic District Commission a little more than a decade ago and was involved with a planning task force that studied the lower Park Avenue corridor in the early 1990s.

    He is an architect and says in the application he has "extensive knowledge and experience" with City Hall’s planning and zoning processes and documents.

    Issues Swanson sees as important include the rewriting of the General Plan, areas where large redevelopments could occur "as they relate to transportation, energy, and water." He also said the historic district and the resort base are important in the context of transit and planning for growth.

  • Gregg Vagstad lives in Old Town and has lived in Park City for a little less than two years. He lists being a member of Park City Community Church, a ballroom dancing club and being a ski instructor as ways he is involved in the community.

    He said he brought an application through the City Hall planning process when building a house in Old Town.

    "I feel it is a fair and thorough process that helps preserve and maintain the historic aspects of old town," Vagstad said.

    He said he was the president of a business before he moved to Park City and has "experience working with developers, contractors, employees and the Teamsters union."

    Issues he sees as important include the way developments are planned along the Park City entryways, the development of Bonanza Park and the idea to build a gondola linking Main Street with Deer Valley Resort.

    "I think that it is important to keep in mind what positive and negative affects the project would have on the upper main street area residents and businesses as well as parking and traffic concerns," Vagstad said about a gondola.