Summit County Councilors report their potential conflicts of interest
Every year, the Summit County Council reviews disclosure forms from elected officials, department heads and other high-ranking employees that are intended to reveal the potential conflicts of interest of those who run the county’s government and its $60 million budget.
The forms, required by the state, detail prohibitions on things like accepting gifts worth more than $50 and using privileged information for financial gain.
Councilors Roger Armstrong and Glenn Wright reported no conflicts in this year’s forms, which were recently publicly released; Kim Carson reported that her residence is owned by a trust in her name.
Council Chair Doug Clyde and Councilor Chris Robinson, on the other hand, reported more extensive potential conflicts.
Clyde is a land-planning consultant and performs services like advising clients on permit applications. According to the disclosure form, he consults on items including conditional use permitting, construction management and wetland delineations.
His clients in Summit County include the master developer of Silver Creek Village, a 1,300-unit development planned for the southeast corner of the Interstate 80/U.S. 40 interchange, and a separate developer looking to build 139 units there.
The latter, CW Lands Company, has been a client of Clyde’s since late 2018, according to the disclosures. The master developer, Village Development Group, is a new client this year.
Clyde also reported performing wetland delineation work for a Silver Creek resident who lives near the proposed route for a new connection road to the neighborhood.
Choosing the route took the County Council more than a decade and included contentious public hearings. It came down to two final options, and the person for whom Clyde consulted repeatedly publicly advocated for one of them; the other would have come within 120 yards of her property, according to Summit County parcel records.
Clyde was the only councilor to vote for the option his former client supported.
In an interview Thursday, Clyde said that the work he performed for the client occurred before either of the final options had been selected and that he repeatedly publicly declared he had performed wetland delineation work in the area. He also said he has frequently performed wetland delineation work and has been doing it for 40 years.
He said his relationship with the client did not color his thinking when deciding how to vote on the access road. The work was completed in 2019, according to the forms, and Clyde said he continues to list the potential conflict because the wetland analysis he performed will likely be included in any future permitting regarding that land.
Wetland delineation work is done to satisfy federal, state and county regulations that require developers to account for sensitive areas on their property.
“You cannot turn in an application for any development work within the county without having identified the wetland location,” Clyde explained.
Clyde wrote that the work may be used in a future subdivision process and that, while the initial task is complete, he may consult further on the project.
In explaining his vote when the route was chosen in January, Clyde pointed to studies that indicated the option he preferred, a new frontage road, would capture about one-third more vehicle traffic than the other route, and that the ultimate selection would cut right through open space.
“Where would you rather have that traffic — through a bucolic meadow or next to an existing interstate?” Clyde said at the time.
He said he disagreed with several aspects of the route that was chosen, including its reliance on land that is included in a concurrent application process for a church to nearly double in size.
Clyde said that his strategy to reduce potential conflicts is to significantly reduce his client size and to work primarily outside of the county. He also said he only works on projects that would be approved at the staff level, like the detailed level of permitting still required in Silver Creek. The general approvals for the development occurred before Clyde’s time on the council. He said he would not accept a project that would require him to appear before a Summit County planning commission.
The only other councilor to report substantial potential conflicts was Chris Robinson.
Robinson owns hundreds of thousands of acres of land through various companies, including co-owning 10,000 acres in Summit County near the Wyoming border that are being leased for a wind power project approved by the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission last fall.
He also disclosed participation in several organizations, including the Utah Local Government Trust, from which the county purchases insurance; and the Central Wasatch Commission, which Robinson chairs and to which the county has paid at least $200,000 since 2013.
Robinson also listed the names of the seven companies that he owns or manages that operate in Summit County, including livestock, ranching and big-game hunting entities.
The disclosure forms can be found at summitcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/10798/Staff-Report-and-Disclosure-Statements.
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A Park City business group said the municipal government moved forward with the works without gathering opinions from the organization.