Park City planning turnover occurring at critical time in talks about PCMR project
New director, panelists will arrive with a major development decision looming at base area
Park City in coming weeks will install a new planning director.
And shortly there is expected to be a new roster of the Park City Planning Commission.
An old development matter is awaiting both the incoming planning director and any members of the Planning Commission who are seated in the upcoming round of appointments.
The turnover is occurring amid the continuing discussions regarding a major development proposal at Park City Mountain Resort, meaning it is certain that some of the people who are expected to have a key role in a decision regarding the PCMR project will be newcomers to the long-running discussions.
It is not clear when the Planning Commission will be prepared to cast what will be among the most closely watched votes in years. It has appeared, though, that a decision could be slated for as early as the spring. Planning Commission timelines regarding large projects like the one proposed at PCMR are difficult to gauge, but the panel is months into the talks and on Wednesday is scheduled to continue the discussions.
City Hall recently named Gretchen Milliken the next planning director, succeeding the late Bruce Erickson. His retirement was expected in the summer prior to his death this month. Milliken arrives at City Hall in early February. Other staffers in the Planning Department who have been assigned to the PCMR project remain, providing some continuity during the transition.
The municipal government, meanwhile, is currently recruiting planning commissioners. There are at least two spots on the seven-person panel that will be filled shortly. City Hall is accepting applications until the new planning commissioners are selected, and officials recently outlined a tentative timeline that put City Council interviews of candidates by the end of January followed by appointments by the middle of the following month. If the schedule holds up, there would be a new planning director and new planning commissioners by the end of February.
It seems unlikely significant progress will have been made in the talks about the project at PCMR by then. If that should be the case, Milliken and new planning commissioners will almost immediately be thrust into an important stretch of discussions about the project, potentially marking a final round of meetings before a vote is cast.
A Provo firm known as PEG Companies is pursuing the PCMR project. The firm reached an agreement with PCMR owner Vail Resorts to acquire the parking lots at the base for the project. There are development rights attached to the land dating to the 1990s.
There is resistance to the proposal, which involves residences, a hotel, retailers and restaurants. People who live or have properties nearby and others are concerned about issues like the traffic and the overall designs. There have appeared to be Planning Commission worries as well.
PEG Companies provided a prepared statement regarding the expected turnover on the Planning Commission in response to a Park Record inquiry.
“Changes to appointed or elected boards can happen and we are hopeful that the chairman is available to stay with our application until it is completed as has been indicated. Either way, we’re confident that we along with staff will take the time necessary to bring a new commissioner (or commissioners) up to speed as appropriate in the public meeting process,” said the statement, attributed to Robert Schmidt, the president of PEG Development.
The Planning Commission is scheduled to return to the talks about the proposal at PCMR at a meeting starting at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The meeting will be held virtually. More information about the meeting is available on the City Hall website, parkcity.org.
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Daniel Lewis, an Old Town resident who unsuccessfully sought a spot on the Park City Council in 2019, said this week he will mount another campaign this year.