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Park City Planning Commission chair John Phillips reflects on 9-year tenure

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KPCW
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Park City Planning Commission chair John Phillips

Park City Planning Commission Chair John Phillips is leaving at the end of this month after serving nine years and helping shape development in the community.

John Phillips said the $45 million purchase of Treasure Hill in 2019 was one of Park City’s greatest achievements during his tenure. He said he was “100% positive” Park City made the right decision conserving the property as open space.

Phillips considered leaving once before, in December 2020, but decided to remain throughout his term because he wanted to help evaluate PEG’s application to redevelop the base area of Park City Mountain Resort.

Regarding the appeal of the Silverlode and Eagle lift upgrades at Park City Mountain, Phillips said he would have likely denied the appeal if there was a 2-2 vote on the commission. The chair does not have voting power unless there is a tie. The final vote on the appeal was 3-1.

Phillips told KPCW that workforce housing affordability will remain Park City’s biggest challenge for years to come as the area continues to grow.

“I also work in the service industry and I see so many of my friends that just can’t live in Park City, and it truly is something that Park City is going to be facing for the foreseeable future,” Phillips said.

Planning commissioners in Park City are paid $100 per meeting, which is the maximum compensation allowed by state law. Phillips said that’s not enough and it’s something the Legislature should consider changing.

“For years I’ve paid my babysitter considerably more than what I walk away with,” he said. “But, you know, that’s part of what you sign up for as well.”

Park City Planning Director Gretchen Milliken said the department is looking at several ways to support the commissioners, including trying to keep meetings to a four-hour maximum and offering dinner and other benefits, such as free passes to the PC MARC.

The state regulates city councils and planning commissions differently.

For comparison, Park City Council members are currently paid roughly $45,000 annually, with the mayor receiving nearly $70,000 per year. About $20,000 of mayor and city council salaries go toward health benefits unless someone waives those benefits to receive cash instead. The council approved a 10% salary increase in June, which went into effect this fiscal year, which began July 1.

Phillip’s departure leaves four open seats on the commission. Ten residents have applied for the openings, including current commissioners Laura Suesser and John Kenworthy. The Park City Council conducted interviews in June and July. Mayor Nann Worel can consider council input but has sole authority to make the appointments.

Parker Malatesta covers Park City for KPCW. Before coming to NPR, he spent one year as a general assignment reporter for TownLift in Park City. He previously was the news editor at The News Record, the student paper at the University of Cincinnati. He loves running, reading, and urban planning.