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Park City Planning Commission seeks members with land use experience

One open seat remains on the Park City Planning Commission. Applications for the seat are expected to open in September.
Parker Malatesta
One open seat remains on the Park City Planning Commission. Applications for the seat are expected to open in September.

The Park City Planning Commission unanimously approved code changes Wednesday - as terms end and new candidates seek spots on the commission, people with professional land use experience will get priority consideration.

Mayor Nann Worel proposed the change in July, after one of her planning commissioner appointments was denied a term by the city council.

Bryan Markannen, an architect with Elliott Workgroup, was rejected in a 3-2 vote after seeking a spot on the commission; the council decided that in closed session and didn’t publicly say why they turned him down.

Worel said at the time that she wanted to fill the vacancy with people experienced in land use matters.

John Phillips and Doug Thimm both recently left. Phillips was the longest serving commission chair in city history, and Thimm is a professional architect.

City planning staff drafted a code change to require at least one member have experience in construction, planning, architecture, or engineering. Wednesday that was changed from “shall” to “should be a priority.”

Commissioner Laura Suesser said she believes four of the current commissioners would meet that requirement.

Commissioner Sarah Hall and others expressed discontent about the rule addition in general.

“I struggle with this, because I think it’s great to have an architect, and a builder, and a land use attorney, and people who have no land use professional experience — but who have an interest in this," Hall said.

"So I would be fine not amending the code, but since this was direction from city council, I feel like we should just give it our best shot, and they’re going to do what they want with it anyways.”

The city council will now vote on the amendment at its meeting Sept. 1.

In July, the city council reappointed commissioners John Kenworthy and Laura Suesser. They also appointed newcomer John Frontero to a four-year term.

After rejecting Worel’s appointment, the city plans to re-open applications for the sole remaining seat in September with the goal of having a full seven-member commission by October. Planning Director Gretchen Milliken called it a “very aggressive timeline.”

At the meeting, the commission also expressed interest in carving out time in every meeting to keep revising land management code, which is a collection of rules governing how the city makes decisions on things like development and zoning.

It’s planning a work session in September to discuss which code changes should take priority.