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Community Development Team Makes a Big Splash in 2022

The Sunrise Community Development department has been around since 2019, helping clients and various communities in Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, and Idaho with world-class land use planning. The department made great strides and progress in 2022, growing the group considerably. The team is comprised of new department manager, Karen Peterson, and six experienced community and economic development planners.  Team members are spread out geographically as to be more closely embedded in the community where they are working. This depth creates a deep enough bench where Sunrise can always have business continuity with the planning projects they take on. “My goal has been to build a team of competent and experienced individuals with expertise in working with community leaders and staff,” Karen explained. These team members include Lance Evans – Principal Planner (Ogden, Utah), Daniel Jensen – Principal Planner (Springville, Utah), Devan Fowles – Senior Planner (Sanpete County, Utah), Stephen Lyon – Economic Development Planner (Ogden, Utah), and Brad Robbins – Planning Project Manager (Washington County, Utah).

“I am thrilled with the team we have built. I am also excited about the support we have been given by the various service centers as we approach clients with these additional planning offerings,” Karen said. “The link between planning and infrastructure is vital – as communities determine their densities, this informs their investments into infrastructure, which then feeds additional work to our service centers.”

With a growing number of state mandates related to planning, such as a general plan mandate for every city and county in Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho, community planning is a vital service that Sunrise offers to clients. A general plan is a guiding document that focuses on land use and is required to have a number of elements such as transportation, moderate income housing, a land use map, etc. The State of Utah also recently adopted a requirement that by 2025, every municipality and county will need a water element included their general plans. Additionally, general plans should be updated every five to seven years. There are many communities in Utah that have not met this requirement and their plans are out of date.

The Intermountain West is seeing incredible growth and communities need to figure out how they can accommodate growth while at the same time preserving their character. Sunrise can help clients with their general plans, ordinance reviews, annexations, zoning code, land use maps, public engagement, small area plans, housing plans, community visioning, economic development planning, and site plans.

With the hire of Steve Lyon, Sunrise can now offer economic development planning to our clients. Economic development planning helps communities think through five key elements: workforce, business, market, product, and organization. These elements include activities such as: site selection, business attraction and retention, infrastructure, tourism, education partnerships, moderate income housing, downtown revitalizations, visioning, and a property’s highest and best uses. Steve comes to Sunrise after a career helping both public and private entities with economic development. He previously worked for the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity (formerly GOED) specifically supporting rural communities in Utah, as well as in economic development in Davis and Morgan Counties.

The existing Community Development team is less than a year old at Sunrise but has incredible potential with both providing new services to Sunrise’s existing clients, as well as bringing new work to all of our additional service centers. In their short time at Sunrise, they have secured projects, in conjunction with other service centers, such as: Corinne’s General Plan and Ordinance Updates; Fillmore’s Ordinance, Subdivision, and Annexation Updates; Jensen Water District’s Bylaw Update; Golden Acres Site Development; EDC Utah’s Site Selection Due Diligence; Toquerville’s General Plan and Annexation Policy; On-Call Planning Services for Bellevue, Idaho; Alpine, Wyoming’s General Plan; and Weston, Idaho’s Zoning Code Update.

“I do not sit still well – which means that I want my department busy, engaged, and productive,” Karen stated. “We have set a goal to meet with each service center in 2023 in person, and I will be reaching out in the next few months to set up those meetings. We want to be a strong asset as service centers bid for proposals and projects. Planning can be both a stand-alone service as well as a value add. We are looking forward to a bright future creating community betterments for Sunrise’s clients.”