General Plan delayed after aggressive but ultimately futile bid for vote
Park City officials over a 24-hour span on Wednesday and Thursday acknowledged that they were not prepared to finish their long-running work on City Hall’s General Plan by the end of the year, opting to extend the discussions into the spring after an aggressive but ultimately futile bid to adopt the growth document next week.
The Park City Planning Commission discussed the General Plan at a meeting on Wednesday while Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council addressed the document on Thursday. The General Plan is an overarching document that guides growth within the Park City limits, covering individual neighborhoods and broader growth-related topics. Other City Hall documents like the Land Management Code, which outline Park City’s detailed development rules, are based on the ideals outlined in the General Plan.
The City Council, in a unanimous vote, decided it would continue its review of the General Plan. In doing so, the elected officials requested the Planning Commission return to its discussions as well. The City Council agreed to form a subcommittee of elected officials, a Planning Commissioner and City Hall staffers to prepare a schedule. The City Council proposed March 7 as the deadline for adoption. There will be a series of meetings before then involving both the City Council and the Planning Commission.
The elected officials at the meeting on Thursday spent time speaking about the schedule. There was an idea, supported by City Councilor Alex Butwinksi, to cast a vote next week on a draft of the General Plan, but it did not win enough support from the others.
There was also discussion about the length of time the Planning Commission spent discussing the General Plan. City Councilor Liza Simpson said she was disappointed in the Planning Commission argument that it did not have enough time for the General Plan discussions. There was a brief but pointed exchange between Butwinski and Planning Commissioner Charlie Wintzer, with Wintzer saying the Planning Commission had requested special meetings and Butwinski challenging the statement by Wintzer as being false.
The meetings this week were seen as being critical given the upcoming changes in the makeup of both the slate of elected officials and the Planning Commission. Mayor Dana Williams is retiring in early January and Butwinski leaves office at the same time after losing his re-election bid. The Planning Commission, meanwhile, is expected to have four new members, a majority on the seven-person panel, by early in 2014.
The change in the Planning Commission roster will be especially noteworthy as it relates to the General Plan discussions. A Planning Commission with four newcomers will be asked to cast a vote on a document covering a wide range of issues that were heavily debated by the sitting Planning Commission. The City Council had extended the terms of some Planning Commissioners in an attempt to ensure the panel members involved in the General Plan discussions were the ones who crafted the recommendation to the elected officials.
The discussions about the General Plan garnered wider public interest in recent weeks as it appeared the officials were preparing to approve the document by the end of the year. There was some concern this week about the role of homeowners associations, references to other cities like Portland, Ore., in the document, the prospects of more development in neighborhoods and whether rentals would be allowed in a wider swath of the city. Some of the Parkites who spoke had called for a delay in the General Plan to provide more time to study the document and offer comments.
The Planning Commission spent several hours on Wednesday discussing the General Plan before deciding it was not prepared to make a recommendation to the Park City Council. The panel voted unanimously to postpone more discussions and a vote until a later, unspecified date. The Planning Commission’s decision to delay a vote was one of the dramatic moments in a long-running process that has garnered more interest in recent weeks than it had previously. The Planning Commission in its vote said it wanted City Hall to garner additional public input and to draft a summary that is more reader friendly.
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