Five vie for planning posts | ParkRecord.com

Five vie for planning posts

Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Five people are vying to become members of the Park City Planning Commission, which will have vacancies after two sitting members retire.

The Park City Council is not yet scheduled to make the appointments and the candidates have not appeared for interviews with the elected officials, which normally precedes the appointments by at least a week.

The five are: Gill Blonsley, Evan Russack, Douglas Stephens, Laura Suesser and Julia Pettit. They have diverse backgrounds and have lived in Park City for a varied amount of time.

The seven-member Planning Commission will lose Diane Zimney and Andrew Volkman. Neither of the veteran commissioners submitted applications to remain on the panel.

The Planning Commission is currently considering several high-profile applications and it seems likely that the new commissioners will be have been seated before a vote is cast on projects like the Sweeney family’s Treasure Hill development west of Old Town.

Other big projects that are looming include a housing development on the edge of Park Meadows and Intermountain Healthcare’s plans to build a hospital at Quinn’s Junction. The next Planning Commission may make key votes on those applications.

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Some highlights of the applications include:

( Blonsley, who lives in Park Meadows, has lived in Park City for eight years and lived in Summit County another two years. He describes himself as a political activist and a "significant donor" to local charities. He served on the Park City Board of Adjustment for four years.

He says he served as a public-health administrator in Las Vegas and in several other Nevada organizations.

In his application, Blonsley says that important issues that the Planning Commission faces include the redevelopment of the "core city," annexations and keeping the city’s development rules "dynamic."

He says in the application that the redevelopment, "should be accomplished by focusing on maintaining the character and historic beauty of Park City." Annexations should be considered cautiously and that City Hall’s development rules should be kept "relevant and unambiguous in its application."

The Planning Commission, he says, should enforce the city’s development rules "in a balanced manner that respects property rights while safeguarding the general interests of the community."

( Suesser, who lives in Old Town, in her application touts her legal background, saying that she is involved in lawyer groups and says that she plans to participate in a free legal services program in Park City.

Suesser says that she is involved with the team shepherding the hospital plans through the City Hall development process.

She has practiced commercial real estate and land-use law in New York City, according to the application.

Suesser says that Treasure Hill, Main Street and traffic are important issues for the Planning Commission.

The application indicates that Treasure Hill "should be very closely considered and approved if the plans are in line with the goals and policies" of the government. She acknowledges that making that decision will be "undoubtedly a difficult, even daunting, determination."

She says that Main Street "has lost its appeal to local residents because the current retail spaces are predominantly geared toward tourists." She supports Main Street having "traditional, smaller downtown" businesses like retailers, restaurants and offices.

She wants the government to research transit options for people who commute to Park City.

( Stephens, who lives in Thaynes Canyon, has lived in Park City since 2000 and was a part-time Parkite beginning in 1992.

According to his application, Stephens was previously on the board of trustees of the Utah Heritage Foundation and he is currently the vice chairman of the Thaynes Canyon Homeowners Association.

He is a consultant for the Planning Department, working in the historic district, and is experienced in development, the application says.

"I also have career experience in private development, so I believe I understand the financial pressures the development community will be exerting on our community," the application says.

Important issues the Planning Commission is handling include Main Street, Old Town and transit.

"There is an opportunity to enhance the experience for both residents and visitors. Main Street reflects the point in our community where the historic, resort and our natural environment converge," he says in the application.

He also discusses his views of Old Town, saying the city should, "promote original design as it relates to both new construction and restoration while protecting the existing historic context of the Historic District."

( Russack, a Park Meadows resident, has lived in Park City for 13 years and is involved in the Coalition for Safe Streets, a group that wants to make Park City safer for people walking or bicycling.

"This may sound weird but I feel a sense of responsibility, almost an obligation to serve," he says in his application. "I know there are a variety of ways to serve but I am drawn to the planning commission because of the impact it has on how our town evolves and what it grows into."

He says he is a member of the Leadership Park City program, which is meant to train people to hold government and other community positions, that he brewed beer for 10 years and that he spent a decade in marketing and advertising.

Important issues he sees the Planning Commission handling include the development of Quinn’s Junction and the future of the Prospector neighborhood, including the Bonanza Drive corridor.

"This area has played a pivotal role in our growth as a town and has emerged as an area that serves the local community. It is important that this area stays this way — focused on the local population and should not compete with Main Street in terms of retail strategies," he says in the application.

( Pettit has lived in Park City for 13 years and lives in Old Town.

She has been a supporter of the Peace House and says that she can provide "good insight into some of the issues the residents of Old Town currently face." She is a lawyer.

Important issues Pettit envisions the Planning Commission handling include preserving the city’s history, preserving open space and traffic and parking.

"If Park City wants to maintain its ‘resort’ like feel, the preservation of open space is critical," she says in the application.

She says that the city must protect Old Town.

"In this regard, a careful, sensitive and balanced approach to building in the Historic District is crucial to maintaining Park City as a destination resort for our tourists and important to those of us who truly enjoy and treasure this aspect of our City."