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South Salt Lake Journal

Residents asked to ‘define their city’ with input on general plan

Nov 24, 2020 03:37PM ● By Bill Hardesty

SSL is starting work on revising their General Plan including plans for open spaces. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

After laying the groundwork for several months, the city is starting a revision of the General Plan. The city adopted the current General Plan in December 2009.

“Our city is launching into an exciting planning process for the General Plan. It is only updated every 10 years and will guide growth and change for the next 20. We have a big push out to the public to learn more about it, take a survey, and get engaged,” Sharen Hauri, Urban Design director, said.

Public involvement

Traditionally, when a city is updating their General Plan, they hold a series of open houses. This time SSL is adding other ways for residents and business owners to provide input.

“The city is making a concerted effort to reach out to traditionally underserved populations. Folks who don’t show up to City Hall or Planning Commission meetings,” Sean Lewis, deputy director for Community Development, said. “We are also making an effort to reach out to our young people, our students. We are asking what kind of city do you want to live in in the future.”

In late November or early December, all residents and business owners will receive a postcard. On the postcard will be a website address. Residents are encouraged to visit the site to express their thoughts.

There is a survey asking what you like and dislike in your neighborhood and the city on the website. There is a mapping exercise on the website where you point to something on the map you like and point to something you dislike. A final activity on the site is to define your neighborhood.

“A neighborhood is not a defined thing. Sometimes it is your subdivision. Sometimes your neighborhood is your church area. Sometimes your neighborhood is where you shop and go to school,” Lewis said. “This will help us clarify how we plan in those areas. For example, if we find a group of residents defining an area of the city as their neighborhood, we can tailor plans for them.”  

Lewis stressed that “the General Plan isn’t for city staff or the City Council or the Planning Commission. It is for the residents to define their city.” 

Besides the website, city staff will hold small group discussions with residents, business owners, and stakeholders like UTA and UDOT.

The General Plan

Utah State Code 10-9a-401 requires all municipalities to have a General Plan. The code does not outline a timeline for revision. Because the General Plan looks out 20-40 years, the typical modification is every 10 years. The standard plan looks out 20 years.

“The General Plan is an advisory document to guide development within the city,” Lewis said.

According to the code, the General Plan must include a moderate-income housing plan, transportation, land use, and economic development. The General Plan may include such topics as general welfare, civic activities, aesthetics, and recreational, educational, and cultural activities.

A city may include plans for energy conversation, renewable energy, air quality, and historic preservation and urban development.

The trick is to write the General Plan broad enough not to hamper the city but also clear enough to guide land use.

Current General Plan

The current SSL General Plan is a hefty 185 pages and is available on the city’s website.

Whenever a zoning change, a zoning exemption, or a land-use ordinance is presented to the Planning Commission and/or the City Council, city staff identifies how the proposed change aligns with the General Plan.

Some examples of progress from the 2019 General Plan are:

  • Goal Community Value (VC)-5 is to “Create an area of South Salt Lake that can be readily identified as the ‘downtown’ or central area of the City.” Starting in 2015 with a Downtown Master Plan, the area between 2100 South and I-80 and State Street to I-15 has begun to develop into a SSL downtown. Such development as South City, WinCo, and Strata99 (formerly known as The Crossing) are examples.
  • Goal Land Use (LU)-4 is to “Capitalize on South Salt Lake’s vast transit options by creating specific transit-oriented development land use plans, using current best practices.” Think of all the development along the S-Line as an example.
  • Goal Park and Recreation (PR)-1 is “Preserve existing open space, create new parks and open space and recreation and cultural sites.” The expansion of Fitts Park and the development of the Columbus Center Park are examples of this goal.