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Mountainous Planning District

The Mountainous Planning District and Commission is made up of residents from across the region to recommend policies to preserve the mountain environment, enhance the quality of living and experience, and manage uses in the mountains. 

Planning Commission

The Mountainous Planning District Planning Commission members include:

Name   Residence
Burke Staker Sandy City
J. Daniel Schoenfeld Granite/Sandy Area   
John Knoblock Millcreek
Nicole Omer Cottonwood Heights   
Mackenzie Sorenson Herriman
James Palmer     Holladay 
Don Despain** Brighton
Sarah Reale Salt Lake City
Harris Sondak Alta or Brighton
Vacant Alternate
Vacant Alternate

* - Commission Chair
** - Commission Vice Chair

Meeting Agenda & Minutes

If you are interested in applying for and serving on the Mountainous Planning District Planning Commission, please visit

Important Links:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Mountainous Planning Commission?

The Mountainous Planning Commission (the “MPC”) was formed in 2015 per County ordinance to provide land use planning and regulation for a geographic area of the Central Wasatch Mountains designated as the Mountainous Planning District (the “Mountainous Planning District”). 

The purpose of the MPC is to consider the Central Wasatch as a regional resource, with long range planning conducted by a body with broad representation from people throughout the valley, although membership on the MPC is primarily concentrated in geographic areas that have a “nexus” to the Mountainous Planning District.

The Mountainous Planning Commission is separate from the Salt Lake County Planning Commission. 

What is the Salt Lake County Planning Commission?

The Salt Lake County Planning Commission (the “County Planning Commission”) is the planning commission that has jurisdiction over the land use planning and regulation for the unincorporated areas of Salt Lake County that do not fall within the Mountainous Planning District.

How does the Mountainous Planning Commission differ from the County Planning Commission?

The MPC and the County Planning Commission differ with respect to the geographic areas for which they have authority and the requirements regarding the geographic residency of the commissioners.

Other than those differences, the two commissions are virtually identical. They are both subject to the same process for regulation of land use and the same appeal mechanisms.

Why was the Mountainous Planning Commission created?

Previously, the County Planning Commission had jurisdiction over areas that now fall within the Mountainous Planning District. With the community preservation election in November 2016, the unincorporated area of the County changed dramatically.  Certain areas that had previously been unincorporated became metro townships (e.g., Magna, Copperton, Kearns, Emigration and White City) and one area became a city (Millcreek).  In addition, certain unincorporated island areas voted to be annexed into adjacent cities.  As a result, the unincorporated portion of the County became much smaller. 

As the unincorporated areas of Salt Lake County decreased in size, concerns began to arise regarding the risk posed by the potential annexation of canyon areas, which could lead to a patchwork approach to planning and land use regulation of this important area.  The Mountainous Planning District was structured so that, even if a city annexed an area that falls within the Mountainous Planning District, the authority for land use planning and regulation for that area would stay with the MPC.

What geographic area does the Mountainous Planning District cover?

See map

The Mountainous Planning District includes Little Cottonwood Canyon, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Mill Creek Canyon, and Parleys Canyon, excluding: Town of Alta and Town of Brighton.

Why isn’t the MPC solely made up of people who live in the Mountainous Planning District?

The Mountainous Planning District is a unique area, not like any other community in the County, in that it serves as a significant recreation resource and a major watershed.  Over 5 million visits are made to this area each year.  As a result, consideration should be given to the “regional impact” of these areas and their planning should receive special treatment.  Thus, commissioners of the MPC come from areas throughout the valley, with a particular focus on the areas that have a close geographic proximity to the Mountainous Planning District or otherwise have important an “nexus” such as water authority. 

For example, the nine commissioners of the Mountainous Planning District are required to come from the following areas:

  • Two seats must be held by a resident of the Mountainous Planning District. One of these seats must be held by a resident of the to-be-created Town of Brighton.
  • One seat must be held by a resident of each of the following four cities (all of which are adjacent to the Mountain Planning District and/or have watershed authority): Sandy, Cottonwood Heights, Millcreek and SLC.
The remaining three seats (and two alternate seats) are appointments made at the discretion of the County Mayor and confirmed by the County Council.