Park City candidates cautioned not to speak publicly about PCMR, Deer Valley developments
City attorney says comments at this point could ‘prejudice’ ability to hear appeals later
Park City Attorney Margaret Plane recently sent a memo to elected and appointed officials, as well as candidates in the City Hall election, cautioning them about making public statements regarding development proposals, including those involving the base areas at Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort.
The memo was distributed on July 23, the day ballots were scheduled to start arriving in the vote-by-mail City Hall primary election. The mayor’s office and two Park City Council seats are on the ballot, and primaries are underway in both of the contests.
The date is also noteworthy with it falling between meetings when the Park City Planning Commission addressed the two high-profile projects.
The Plane memo outlines that elected official or candidate stands on planning and zoning matters could jeopardize a later process, such as when a decision by the Planning Commission is put to the City Council through an appeal. A developer or an opponent of a project could file an appeal of a Planning Commission decision. The memo outlines that a stand during the election could require a city councilor to remove themselves from later discussions or votes, known as a recusal.
“Publicly supporting or opposing an outcome or particular standard at this stage may prejudice your ability to hear and decide applications or appeals fairly and impartially,” the city attorney says in the memo.
It also says due process “requires decision makers to fairly consider the questions presented at the time they are presented — not before.”
“We recognize that there is a campaign going on and respect your rights to take positions on issues important to you and the community,” the memo says. “Just a reminder that those positions may have consequences, including recusal. Recusal is evaluated on a case-by-case basis at the time.”
The memo notes the development proposals at PCMR and Deer Valley.
It is not clear whether the proposals at the two resorts will become campaign issues. The Planning Commission talks about PCMR started more than a year ago while the panel’s discussions about Deer Valley began on Wednesday.
The proposals in both cases are based on decades-old overall approvals for development at the locations, meaning the key growth votes were taken long ago and the Planning Commission is essentially tasked with deciding whether the proposals meet the earlier parameters. In that context, it is unclear what role the projects could play in the City Hall campaign this year.
It seems likely, though, the development proposals will be debated during the campaign anyway since many in the community are monitoring the discussions about the PCMR and Deer Valley projects, and growth and related topics like the economy and traffic remain the overriding issues in Park City.
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