Park City Planning Commission turns over
The Park City Council opted for a mix of veterans and newcomers as it filled five Planning Commission seats on Thursday, making an unusually high number of appointments at once as a result of what had been long-running discussions about the Treasure development proposal.
The appointments were staggered. Two incumbent members of the Planning Commission, John Phillips and Laura Suesser, were reappointed to terms that will expire in July of 2022. Sarah Hall and Mark Sletten were selected for terms ending in July of 2020, while John Kenworthy was tapped for a term ending in July of 2021.
The unusual number of appointments came after the elected officials extended the terms of Planning Commissioners indefinitely as the panel was engaged in high-stakes talks about Treasure, an approximately 1 million square foot proposal on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. The Planning Commission talks about Treasure have been suspended as the sides await the results of a November ballot measure that would fund a City Hall acquisition of Treasure in a conservation deal. The suspension provided an opportunity for the City Council to make the round of Planning Commission appointments.
As incumbents, Phillips and Suesser are well versed in the issues and projects before the Planning Commission. Sletten, meanwhile, is a former member of the Planning Commission and brings a working knowledge of City Hall procedures and processes. Kenworthy’s background includes time on the municipal government’s Old Town panel, the Historic Preservation Board, providing him an understanding of the mechanics of planning and zoning. Hall’s civic involvement includes the Park City Library Board, a municipal body.
The first meeting of the Planning Commission featuring the new roster is scheduled on Wednesday. An early version of the agenda indicated the meeting has a light agenda of plat amendments and training regarding state open-meeting laws.
The Planning Commission during the terms is expected to remain busy as Park City continues to enjoy a strong economy. The panel would return to the discussions about Treasure if the ballot measure fails, something that would immediately propel the new Planning Commissioners into the most polarizing development dispute since the project now known as Empire Pass was approved in the 1990s.
The Planning Commission will also have a key role as City Hall continues to aggressively pursue work force or otherwise affordable housing projects as well as a planned arts district in Bonanza Park. It is also possible both Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort could pursue significant development by the time the last of the terms appointed on Thursday expires.
Phillips, a Norfolk Avenue resident who has lived in Park City for 15 years, said in his application enforcing City Hall codes and updating the municipal government’s planning and zoning documents are important issues. Suesser, who lives on Lowell Avenue and has lived in Park City for 10 years, said in her application important issues include reducing traffic, pedestrian connections and housing.
Highlights of the applications of the new appointees include:
• Hall has lived in Park City for approximately two years and lives on Aspen Springs Drive. She lived just outside of Park City for five years before moving into the city. Her civic involvement has included the Leadership Park City training program and work with the Mountain Trails Foundation. She is an attorney. Hall said in her application she wants to balance issues like the local economy and maintaining Park City’s character.
“Our past and current growth has brought both wonderful resources to our community while also creating some negative impacts on our small town,” Hall says in the application.
She added that transportation and parking systems need to properly function “to ensure that our community will not only be productive, but that all people will enjoy their experience in town.”
• Sletten has lived in Park City for 23 years and lives on Holiday Ranch Loop Road. He served on a previous Planning Commission as well as a City Hall blue-ribbon commission that delved into housing issues. Sletten said in his application issues like work force or otherwise restricted affordable housing, the redevelopment of the base area of Park City Mountain Resort and the future of Bonanza Park are important issues for the Planning Commission.
The Sletten application says the housing should be integrated “into the fabric of our neighborhoods.” It also mentions that an arts and cultural district planned in Bonanza Park is important, noting that the Kimball Art Center and the Utah offices of the Sundance Institute are seen as the anchors of the district.
Sletten wants the district designed “so that those organizations have (an) impactful and sustainable presence in Park City.”
• Kenworthy has lived in Park City for 12 years and lives on Main Street. His civic involvement has included service on the Historic Preservation Board, which has duties in Old Town, and the Historic Park City Alliance, a group that promotes the interests of the Main Street core. Kenworthy said in his application housing, the preservation of Old Town and the related topics of transportation and parking are important. Kenworthy said housing for seniors is particularly notable.
“Critical to the vibrancy of any city is diversity. Without housing priced at all economic levels this vibrancy will be diminished,” he said in the application, describing that senior citizens are forced to move out of Park City as they downsize their housing.
Kenworthy also said Park City’s uniqueness and identity are dependent on Old Town’s preservation.
A critic of a Park City workforce or otherwise affordable housing project in Old Town said he is considering an appeal of the Park City Planning Commission’s approval of the development.