Do We Need a Better Way of Notifying Citizens of Potential Development Changes?
Recently on social media, people began asking what the new development by Ruby Tuesdays was. Many people seemed shocked that a Whole Foods was being put there and the lament began over all the issues that were discussed months ago when the development was being approved.
During the approval process, the topic was covered extensively on KPCW and in the Park Record. The county publicized the planning meetings as required by law. Everything happened as it technically should have. Yet, it appears this is the first time some people had heard of this. I would like to say I’m shocked that people didn’t know, but I’m not. People around Park City are busy and often don’t pay attention until the ground moves. This is unfortunate because then it is too late.
So, what could be done? We need to find a way to notify citizens of changes that may be happening, even if they don’t read public notices in the Park Record, listen to KPCW, or live within a 1,000 feet of a proposed development (where a notice is mailed). In the Whole Foods example, we missed an opportunity for input and education with all the parents driving their kids to Ecker Hill, people visiting the outlet mall, and citizens using the trails near Landmark Drive. If there was only a way for all these people to be notified that a change is potentially coming.
Thankfully, there is and we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. This is what is posted in Toronto when a development change may occur:
Imagine if a similar sign to this, that was readable from a car (maybe 8-10 feet wide or larger), was posted on the new Whole Foods lot when this discussion was taking place months ago. It has all the information a person would need to understand that something was happening:
- It tells them there is a potential change coming
- It tells them what the change is in simple terms
- It tells them where and when the meeting is
- It tell them who to contact
- There is a QR code that makes it easy to be directed to a website about the issue
- It asks for community feedback
- It shows a picture of the change
- It uses icons to make it quick and easy to understand
I believe Park City Municipal does post a small sign indicating a potential change may be coming and perhaps the county does for the Snyderville Basin, too. However, I’ve never seen any sign as clear as this and of a significant size to garner the public’s attention.
A sign like this would not guarantee that everyone would know about potential changes to land use but it has a much better shot at informing the public than what seems to be happening today. It may not be exactly what we need, and I’m sure our current planners would have some better ideas on how to make it work, but I think something like it would be a great start.
The good news is that Summit County is currently working on updating the development code for the Snyderville Basin. It’s the perfect time to talk about the idea and see if it has legs. If it does, and signage requirements could be added to the development code, we’d be on our way to better educating and informing the public. Hopefully that would lead to greater public engagement and sharing of opinions, before the ground is moved, and when those opinions can actually impact action.
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