New members appointed to the Planning CommissionAug 02, 2022 10:33AM ● By Cassie Goff
By Cassie Goff | [email protected]
Sean Steinman and Mike Shelton were welcomed to the Cottonwood Heights Planning Commission. Serving until 2025, the appointments of these two individuals was considered by the Cottonwood Heights City Council on July 5.
As Planning Commission members have to be chosen by the city manager, Tim Tingey voiced his recommendations for both individuals to the city council.
“Sean Steinman is a resident, business owner, and has a great background. He’s interested in promoting what is positive for the community, both long term and short term, and has a balanced approach,” Tingey said. “All of those things are important for someone serving on the Planning Commission.”
“I think Mike Shelton will be a very valuable member of the Planning Commission,” Tingey said. “He’s someone who has served, understands state and local law regarding land use, and understands broad community interests.”
However, there was opposition regarding Shelton’s appointment as he previously served on the city council. Resident Debra Case spoke during the public comment session.
“Shelton is a former council member. Many of the Cottonwood Heights citizens were upset with Shelton’s overly builder friendly attitude, his support of high density, large buildings, and increased traffic. I don’t believe in his policies regarding building, growth, and planning for our city,” Case said.
“Shelton’s more authoritarian pro-building and pro-growth attitudes are not a good fit. We need someone in tune with our future and what is best for the long run of our community,” continued Case.
Mayor Mike Weichers asked Shelton, who was present in the audience, if he would like to comment.
“The work that the Planning Commission does is so very important to our community,” Shelton said. “Decisions that have the greatest impact are by a committee that represents the community. Here, we have two community-based committees.
“I have spent a lot of time with land use issues while serving with the city. I have shown a willingness to represent the larger part of the community in my work,” Shelton said.
Each of the city councilmembers were then asked for their comments before calling for the final vote.
“I think Mike would be good on the Planning Commission,” said Councilmember Doug Peterson.
“I spent eight years working directly with Mr. Shelton. We didn’t always agree,” said Councilmember Scott Bracken. “But I always found him willing to listen to each side of a discussion, weigh it, and come up with what he thought was best.”
“I respect and thank Mike Shelton for his service. Eight years doing this job is a Herculean thing,” began Councilmember Ellen Birrell before speaking in opposition.
“There were over 4,100 residents of Cottonwood Heights that signed a referendum because they were extremely displeased with the densification of an apartment complex that was being considered by our city. It was clear the residents were extremely opposed. That fell within District 1 and largely under the oversight of Mr. Shelton,” Birrell said. “I cannot in good conscious feel that bringing Mr. Shelton onto the Planning Commission would be a positive thing for our community.”
Instead, Birrell suggested an alternative. “My action tonight is to recommend to my fellow council that we delay this vote and put a large call out box on the home page of the city’s website, letting the residents know that the deadline for applying to these various positions is open. Our city manager can consider other applications that represent the direction that has been pointed out in our surveys more—a direction towards connectivity, walkability, traffic calming, and less development.”
Birrell’s motion to delay the vote was not seconded.
Bracken then moved to approve Resolution 2022-35: Approving Appointments to the Planning Commission with modification. Peterson seconded the motion. The majority of the city council voted in favor of the appointments, with only Birrell being the dissenting vote.
Shelton (District 1) and Steinman (District 4) join Jessica Chappell (District 2), Dan Mills (Vice Chair), Jonathan Ebbeler (Alternative), Lucy Anderson (District 3 at-large) and Jesse Allen (Chair).
There is currently a vacant seat on the Planning Commission for District 1 at-large. To apply, visit the city’s website at: ch.utah.gov. Then, hover over the “Your Government” tab. From the dropdown menu, click on the “Planning Commission” page. An “Apply for Cottonwood Heights Board and Commission” icon will be seen within a light blue rectangle.