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Resolution condemns developer bill

Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

State Sen. Al Mansell has abandoned his controversial pro-development legislation.

But the Park City government, aghast with what had been proposed in the bill, this week wanted to make sure that its objections were formalized anyway.

In a rare move, the Park City Council on Thursday night adopted a resolution against the Mansell legislation, Senate Bill 170. The vote was 4-0 with City Councilwoman Candy Erickson not in attendance.

The City Council infrequently makes such statements on state-government matters. Resolutions are normally reserved for people or organizations that City Hall wants to honor.

The nine-point resolution addresses what critics have seen as some of the most undesirable parts of the Mansell bill.

The resolution, for instance, says the legislation, "gives the development community the ability to control the development process in our community and establishes intimidating penalties for officers and employees of the City, both criminal and civil, for failure to comply with that process."

Other points of the resolution claim that the legislation "seriously compromises" public officials’ ability weigh property rights against neighbors’ desires, creates "difficult to impossible" schedules for a government to process an application and eliminates a city’s ability to plan for long-term growth through what is known as a ‘general plan.’

The resolution also claims that the Mansell legislation "inhibits our ability to provide affordable housing," a statement that was added after the first version of the resolution was distributed.

Mansell has backed off the legislation. City Hall is following other pieces of legislation that, according to a legislative update provided to the City Council, would address some of the concepts outlined in Senate Bill 170 and modify the job description of the state’s property ombudsman. The modifications would include creating a board to advise the ombudsman, the update said.

In an interview after the resolution passed, Mayor Dana Williams said the city government wants the resolution to reinforce its stand and said he is concerned that the bill may reappear.

"Until it’s pulled, I think we just have to be on our toes and make sure the opposition stays," Williams said.

Before the vote, Williams said he is worried about the effects of the legislation on the rights of citizens to hold referendums. The Mansell bill would have effectively barred such referendums.

"That scares the hell out of me," he said, noting that in the 1990s the threat of a referendum influenced United Park City Mines to make changes to its Flagstaff development, now known as Empire Pass.

Gary Hill, who monitors the Legislature for City Hall, said Mansell backed off from the bill after the opponents "beat him up sufficiently."

The resolution’s text largely follows that of one drafted by the Utah League of Cities and Towns, an organization that lobbies for local governments that Park City works with.

Lincoln Shurtz, the legislative-affairs director with the League of Cities and Towns, said on Thursday that about 60 local governments have passed similar resolutions. The League of Cities and Towns drafted the model resolution about two weeks ago, when the Mansell legislation became widely known.

"At this point, I think the message has been received," Shurtz said. "It’s kind of reaffirming where we’ve always been."

Williams said the Park City resolution shows "solidarity" with the other communities.

"It fits the Council goal of, basically, participating more in our state and supporting other cities in the state," he said. "The effect on all of us is equally devastating."


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