Summit County considers creating advisory committee to determine how to spend open space bond funds
The panel would be responsible for helping to identify land in the county that should be preserved and acquired for open space
Summit County voters overwhelmingly supported a $50 million bond for open space preservation last November and may have a say in how the money is utilized.
Following a March 18 discussion with the county’s debt committee, the Summit County Council authorized the issuance of the full general obligation bond on Wednesday and discussed creating an open space advisory committee to help guide where the funds should go.
If the County Council forms the committee, the panel would be responsible for helping to identify land in the county that should be preserved and acquired for open space, agricultural protection areas or conservation easements, according to a presentation by Jess Kirby, the county’s public lands manager. The committee would then provide recommendations to County Manager Tom Fisher and the County Council on how the open space bonds should be used.
The open space advisory committee will consist of three subcommittees with seven members apiece that represent the West Side as well as North and South Summit. There will also be a nine-member executive committee that’s made up of three members from each zone.
The West Side committee will consist of representatives from Park City, the unincorporated Snyderville Basin, the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation Service District, an agricultural or natural resources professional and three at-large members. The North Summit committee will include a representative from Coalville, Henefer, the North Summit Special Service District and unincorporated North Summit. One representative from Kamas, Oakley, Francis and unincorporated South Summit will be selected for the South Summit subcommittee. Both the North and South Summit committees will include one natural resource professional and two at-large representatives.
The members of the subcommittees must reside within the established boundaries. The South Summit subcommittee excludes areas within the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District but does include the neighborhoods of Promontory and Silver Creek Village.
Council Chair Chris Robinson questioned the boundaries of the North Summit subcommittee, which was based on the school district zones, as some land like Chalk Creek was included in the South Summit area. Kirby said that the boundaries were drawn based on staff recommendations but they could be changed as long as the geographic areas are easily understood.
Under the proposed ordinance, membership opportunities will be publicized, with each municipality able to provide a recommendation on who should serve. Then, the county manager, with input from the County Council, will appoint 21 members to the subcommittees.
County councilors debated how they wanted to accept nominations to ensure voters had adequate representation but seemingly agreed that they wanted to keep the process flexible to allow for more collaborative opportunities. They also questioned if, and how, land trusts should be consulted in the process.
Once formed, the executive committee and each subcommittee would be able to enlist a limited number of non-voting members from the county manager’s office and either planning commission to advise county officials.
Robinson said one of the first things he wants the committees to do is craft the standards for preserving open space. Each subcommittee is encouraged to hold public hearings to develop evaluation standards for selecting target areas.
Landowners who are interested in nominating their property for preservation or open space must file with the executive committee. Then the executive committee will hear a presentation from the landowner or land trust regarding the site, which could include a site visit to review the property.
“What we’re looking for these subcommittees to do is … they’re going to come up with criteria that they believe is important for open space considerations and that would be handed to the executive committee or they would use that for their own assessments of properties,” Councilor Roger Armstrong said.
Before the County Council adopts the ordinance to create the open space advisory committee, Robinson said he wants the boundary map to be revised and the language on recommending members clarified.
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