Planning across borders
As development spreads across the Basin and Park City, blurring the border between the two entities, the Snyderville Basin and Park City Planning Commissions held a joint meeting last Wednesday in an effort to make its codes and development plans more harmonious.
Members of both commissions called the meeting energizing and said it was a great first step toward working together more often.
According to Basin Planning Commissioner Annette Velarde, both groups requested the meeting, which excluded elected officials, to coordinate with each other.
"The mythical division between Park City and the Basin has become insignificant in the past few years," Velarde said. "We both have the same base concerns, traffic, development, density, and we want to make sure our general plan, vision and codes align."
Velarde added that all the commissioners felt similarly about density and the possibility for a lot more of it in the future.
"Both groups admitted that we can’t have low density without having urban sprawl," she said. "So mutually, we need to decide the best way to avoid that, whether that means having village centers and more open space or what."
Former Basin Planning Commissioner Bassam Salem said that the meeting was so exciting, it almost convinced him to retract his decision to quit the planning commission.
"It was so productive in just one night and really reiterated that we need to have a tighter bond and not let the political bureaucracy tell us how to behave," Salem said. "The elephant in the room at the beginning was where do you put density and affordable housing. Park City wants it in the Basin and the Basin wants it in Salt Lake. But we cut through the tension and decided to approach these problems as one community and see what each of us brings to the table."
Park City Planning Commissioner Nann Worel said the meeting was all about collaboration and the two groups decided to meet again soon in order to keep moving in the right direction.
"We didn’t necessarily come out of the meeting with anything accomplished, but this was step one to streamlining our departments and alliance," she said.
The two groups met 18 months ago, but plan on trying to meet every two months from now on. Velarde said at the next meeting they will come up with a clear assessment for aligning the codes and plans.
"As we redo our general plan, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel," she said. "Park City has so many things we could adopt. At some point, we have both become frustrated with the other group because we don’t know what they are thinking. This is the beginning of both groups being able to talk things through and work together."
Two people indicated in interviews they are considering mounting campaigns for the Park City Council, a signal the City Hall election could attract an intriguing slate of candidates in a year when the majority of the five seats are on the ballot.