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Letter: Paulson is wrong about planners, commissions

Published October 30, 2013 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Kevin Paulson has let his magical thinking and political dogma get in the way of understanding how planning commissions and city planners conduct business ("City planning needs more input at neighborhood level," Opinion, Oct. 27).

Planning commissions are creatures of state statute and work within the strict confines of laws passed by our state Legislature, with the watchful oversight of city and county attorneys. They do not create new zoning ordinances. Through a long and involved public process, planning commissions make recommendations on zoning ordinance changes to the city and county councils, but only recommendations. Elected officials make law, not planning commissions.

Paulson then casts city planners as a law on to themselves, accountable to no one and pursuing selfish objectives. To the contrary, city planners also work within the confines of state law tailored to protect private-property rights. Planners do not make any law.

If an individual or business feels that a planning commission or city planner has acted in an unlawful manner that has caused them a financial burden or loss, substantial redress is available. Suffice to say, local governments work hard to avoid running afoul of state law.

Tom Stephens

Salt Lake City