Wanted: A few good planning commissioners | ParkRecord.com

Wanted: A few good planning commissioners

The Summit County Commission is currently looking for citizens willing to serve on the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission — and before encouraging anyone to apply, we feel it is our duty to explain just how hard this important role can be.

The job description would read something like this: Must care deeply about the community and yet have no personal agenda. Must take input from all parties and yet not be swayed by the changing winds of public opinion. Must preserve the environment but also allow for continued economic growth. Hours: Long. Pay: Barely covers expenses.

Two longtime commissioners, one from each of the county’s two planning boards are leaving and while their contributions have been enormous, we can’t blame them from being worn out. Greg Voth served on the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission for six years, Doug Geary held his seat on the Eastern board for nine. Both spent hundreds of hours listening to citizens, developers, irate neighbors and lawyers in an effort to make the best decisions possible. One would assume that over the years, they received lots of praise for their selfless efforts. In fact, they probably spent the majority of their stints dealing with hostile developers and irate homeowners.

Those upcoming debates promise to be just as heated as the impassioned battles that faced Voth and Geary.

The East and West sides of Summit County still face huge decisions about the fate of their farms, neighborhoods, commercial centers and open spaces. One new plan that has the potential to re-ignite the bitter debates surrounding the original approval of the Kmart at Kimball Junction over a decade ago, surfaced just this week. A local developer is hoping to gain approval for a pair of "big-box" retailers on property just north of The Home Depot on U.S. 40.

The arguments both for and against allowing a possible Target and Costco store north of Quinn’s Junction are compelling. The national retailers could generate additional sales tax revenues and jobs for the county, the property is easily accessed from a major state highway and no neighborhoods would be impacted. However, greenlighting another retail hub could weaken existing commercial centers like the new Quarry Village commercial center on lower Pinebrook Road, or the Redstone Towne Centre on S.R. 224, both of which have yet to reach full occupancy. Creating another outlying commercial hub would also impact county services and infrastructure.

No matter what the lawyers say, there is no absolute right or wrong when it comes to many of the decisions that will come before the Basin and Eastern Summit County Planning Commissions, which is why the planning commissioners’ roles are so important. As the first line of scrutiny for their fellow citizens, they must balance all of the disparate needs of the community and make them work, not just on paper, but in our neighborhoods for decades to come.

Six residents applied for the East Side board and the Summit County Commissioners are expected to interview two of them next week. In the meantime, the county is still seeking applicants for Voth’s seat. For details on how to apply call County Commission Administrator Anita Lewis, 615-3220. The application deadline is Feb.22 at 5 p.m.

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