Three seats filled on East Side Planning Commission
Sean Wharton is reappointed to a third term
Most of Sean Wharton’s time spent on the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission has been dedicated to rewriting the development code and adjustments of the zoning boundaries.
Wharton, a two-term commissioner who lives in Marion, said he recently reapplied for his seat on the planning commission because he wanted to see the process through now that the commission’s recommendation is before the Summit County Council.
“We have had a lot of turnover and I think we need the continuity going forward with so many things that have been in the works,” Wharton said. “There are also some neat projects that are going to be coming before us that are in the pipeline that are kind of interesting that I want to be a part of.”
Wharton was reappointed on Wednesday to the seven-member board, along with Tom Clyde and Bill Wilde. Clyde and Wilde were appointed to replace commissioners Ken Henrie and Chris Ure, who each served three consecutive terms, which is the limit for planning commissioners.
Planning commissioners serve on a volunteer basis and are appointed to three-year terms. Wharton, Clyde and Wilde’s terms will expire on Feb. 28, 2020. County councilors also interviewed David Bobrowsky, Gale Pace, Kristina Ure and Marc Watterson for the three open seats.
“The landscape is changing, but the goal is to try and create a balance that meets the needs of both of the people through smart planning and a little bit of flexibility,” Wharton said. “We need a bunch of stuff over here (Kamas Valley) and we are a little bit of a blank slate. We have an opportunity to create a really nice future for this valley.”
Commissioners are responsible for reviewing applications for conditional use permits or subdivision plans and making recommendations concerning zoning and development code revisions to the County Council.
Wharton, Clyde and Wilde will join fellow commissioners Tonja Hanson, Louise Willoughby, Rich Sonntag and Don Sargent.
Clyde, who lives at Diamond Bar X Ranch in Woodland, previously served two terms on the planning commission after he was appointed to fill part of an unexpired term and was then reappointed.
Clyde said he chose not to reapply for the commission when his second term expired because he “didn’t feel like we were getting anything effective done.” However, he said the climate today is different.
“They were actually able to get through the pretty complicated process of formulating the new code and making recommendations to the County Council,” Clyde said. “I felt like the department was not running and functioning very well back then and we weren’t getting the staff support we needed.”
Sargent was the Summit County Community Development director at the time Clyde served on the planning commission. Sargent resigned in 2013 following an ethics investigation into his conduct as director.
“I do think it will be an interesting challenge moving ahead, but I think the planning department is functioning at a higher level of professionalism than they were years ago,” Clyde said. “It’s just all working better and functioning more smoothly.”
While serving on the commission, Clyde said he wants to ensure Kamas Valley doesn’t turn into another Snyderville Basin.
“It will be very tough because the reality is the agriculture economy here doesn’t function and to say we want to preserve the open farm land is great, except the owners of the open farmland are looking at resort real estate prices and losing money on raising beef,” Clyde said. “The economics are absolutely against it and it will take some creativity to figure out ways to keep it from becoming suburban sprawl.”
Wilde, of Hoytsville, said he applied for a seat on the commission several times before his recent appointment. Wilde has served as president of the Hoytsville Culinary Water Company and currently sits on the Eastern Summit County Sewer Advisory Committee.
“I have a passion for water quality and quantity, and also property rights. I think we have to be real careful when we make rules that affect property rights,” Wilde said. “I don’t have the opinion that just because we own a piece of ground we can do whatever we want. But, I do believe we have some concerns that we need to be able to do some things on the property we own.”
Wilde addressed concerns with density, sewer and basic processes that go through the county’s planning department.
“I look forward to serving and I obviously have a lot to learn because I don’t know all the answers,” Wilde said. “But, I don’t have an agenda. I just want to see if we can make things a little better in those areas like water and property rights.”
To view the commission agenda when it becomes available go to http://summitcounty.org/agendacenter.
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A gas leak forced the evacuation of North Summit High School and North Summit Middle School Monday afternoon in Coalville. No injuries were reported.