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Top planner’s role altered

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Pat Putt, City Hall’s top planner, has been shifted from the daily operations of the Planning Department to what the local government says is a needed position to create a community that does not stress the environment.

Putt remains the Planning director but will not be the person making everyday decision for the department. Putt, who is 47 years old, has been with City Hall for 11 years, first as the planning and zoning administrator and then as the director of the department.

Through his career with City Hall, he has been a pivotal staffer, involved in lots of Park City’s most noted development decisions, including Empire Pass, Deer Crest and the resurgence of Park City Mountain Resort’s base area.

He says his new position allows him to be more involved in City Hall’s push to make Park City what is known as a sustainable community, a theory especially backed by Mayor Dana Williams. Such a community tries to limit its effects on the environment through diverse measures and programs, many of which involve planning and zoning issues.

"I tend to call it community building," Putt says about the government’s shift, saying that his work is now broader compared to considering individual projects, as he did before.

Putt acknowledges that he and City Hall’s planners typically handled the stream of development applications but his new position provides a change. He says there will be more emphasis on development and how it relates to issues like transit, the economy and the environment.

Those sorts of issues are normally considered anyway but Putt says the change provides more opportunities.

"We have always attempted to keep pace to the degree we could in our long-range planning," Putt says.

Putt says he will work more closely with City Hall staffers like Public Affairs Director Myles Rademan, Alison Butz, who handles environmental issues, among other duties, and Phyllis Robinson, who helms the city’s housing programs.

"I’m not going anywhere. I’m still the Planning director," Putt says.

Putt will continue overseeing select Planning Department decisions, including hearing appeals and changes to the city’s Land Management Code, which is the document that governs development.

Putt says he does not want Park City to become what he calls a "big suburban community." He describes his vision for the city as a "balance in our careful growth-management strategies while trying to remain economically competitive with other resorts."

Brooks Robinson, the department’s principal planner and a 10-year veteran of the department, will take over Putt’s day-to-day responsibilities.

The change comes as the Planning Department remains busy with developers trying to build as Park City enjoys a hot economy. The department is considering several notable applications, including the Sweeney family’s Treasure Hill proposal on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort, just west of Old Town. Meanwhile, through 2006, there has been an ongoing debate about the development potential of the North of Main district.

It is the biggest shakeup of the department since 2003, when Park City Manager Tom Bakaly, then the city’s new chief executive, ousted Rick Lewis, who was the Community Development director. The position and two other high-level posts were eliminated from the government in a move Bakaly said would lessen red tape at City Hall.

Robinson says his new duties will include assigning applications to City Hall planners and setting agendas for the Planning Commission, the Historic Preservation Board and the Board of Adjustment. He says he will play a larger role as the department crafts recommendations that are then forwarded to the panels.

Robinson most recently has been the planner assigned to Empire Pass, a ritzy project on the slopes of Deer Valley Resort. He is 49 years old and been a City Hall planner for 10 years. He has been assigned to Empire Pass for three years.

He predicts many Parkites will not notice the change.

"I don’t think anybody coming to the counter, phoning, will see a change," Robinson says.

But he adds that he will likely closely adhere to City Hall’s development code.

"I tend to be more formal," he says. "I will read the code more conservatively, stricter, possibly, than others."


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