Salt Lake County Council Approves Candidates for New Mountain Planning Commission

The Salt Lake County Council has interviewed and approved an eight candidates nominated by Mayor Ben McAdams for the newly-created planning commission overseeing the Mountainous Planning District.

The approved members as well as two alternates are from the Granite area, Salt Lake City, Millcreek, Holladay, and Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. They are appointed to staggered terms of one, two and three years. Alternates are appointed for four years. Additional candidates are still being considered for the ninth slot.

The Mountainous Planning District is a geographic area of the Central Wasatch Mountains designated by county ordinance. Jurisdiction for its land use planning and regulation resides with this new commission. It includes the land area east of current city boundaries, excluding the Town of Alta and the Emigration Township, which retain their own land use planning and regulation authority.

“These canyons are a regional asset, visited by millions every year. The watershed provides a major share of clean, affordable drinking water for our homes and businesses, so the future of the canyons matters to everyone in the Salt Lake Valley,” said Mayor Ben McAdams.

Meetings will be held the first Thursday of every month, at 4 p.m., in the Salt Lake County Council Chambers, 2001 So. State Street, North Building. Agendas can be found online at:

The new commissioners are:

  • Tod Young (Granite/Sandy area) – is a current member of the Salt Lake County Planning commission; formerly a self-employed expert in the field of aviation. He has also served on the Granite Community Council.
  • Neil A. Cohen (Granite/Sandy area) – also a current county planning commissioner; part-time employee at Snowbird Resort. He is retired from the resort hospitality business and has worked as an education specialist for the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
  • Bryan O’Meara (Big Cottonwood Canyon) – is a representative for Mt. Haven community on the Big Cottonwood Community Council and a current member of the Salt Lake County Planning Commission. He is the CEO of Canyon Culinary, Inc., which develops business plans for full service restaurant concepts.
  • Catherine Kanter (Little Cottonwood Canyon) – is a current member of the Granite Community Council, as well as a member of Neighborhood House Board of Trustees. She is an attorney with a background in commercial real estate law.
  • Linda G. Johnson (Millcreek) – is a current member of the county’s Environmental Health Environmental Quality Advisory Council. She is a retired personnel management and quality control consultant.
  • Reid Persing (Salt Lake City) – advises clients on federal, state and local environmental regulations as an employee of SWCA Environmental Consultants. He is a volunteer with the Utah Avalanche Center.
  • Libby Ellis (Salt Lake City) – is the studio photography manager at Black Diamond Equipment. She has also worked as Director of Marketing at The Nature Conservancy of Utah and as a backcountry ranger in Grand Canyon National Park.
  • Roger Kehr (Cottonwood Heights) – is a mitigation specialist with Salt Lake County Emergency Management. He is also a major with Civil Air Patrol, Utah Wing. He has been a volunteer Emergency Communications Coordinator with the city of Cottonwood Heights.

Two alternates:

  • Jim Palmer (Holladay) – is a two-term Holladay City council member and the former chair of the Holladay City Planning Commission. He is the Chief Authentication Officer for HydrantID, providing digital certificates and cloud-based Public Key Infrastructure services.
  • Don Despain (Big Cottonwood Canyon) – is a board member of Big Cottonwood Canyon Association. He is current president of Silver Lake company, a canyon non-profit water company and the general manager of Big Cottonwood Canyon Improvement District I.