Sticking to the plan: A new review process for future land use map amendments
Aug 31, 2017 06:18PM
● By Jana Klopsch
The Future Land Use Map is a template for development in the city. (West Jordan City)
A new review process [3 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
By Becca Ketelsleger | Becca.firstname.lastname@example.org
West Jordan has a master plan, at least in terms of land use.
The city’s future land map is a template for development in West Jordan. According to the city’s General Plan, the “primary goal in determining future land uses is to determine development patterns which build upon already existing and established patterns.”
Unfortunately, sometimes things do not go as planned.
“We have found that our future land map doesn’t mean a whole lot, to be honest,” said City Planner Scott Langford at the July 12 city council meeting. He said with future land use amendment changes coming up on almost every agenda, “we lose the context of all these small changes, but when you add them all up they amount to a huge change.”
When a resident or company comes forward with a request to amend the land use map, the planning commission reviews the request and then makes a recommendation to the city council. The city council will then vote whether to amend the future land map.
Once the map has been amended, the applicant can go through all proper channels and use the land as they desire.
At the July 14 city council meeting, however, the timeline for this request and amendment process was changed. Ordinance 17-41, which states that map amendment requests can only be reviewed by the West Jordan City Council quarterly, was passed unanimously.
“The thought was…that rather than piecemealing each meeting, by doing it quarterly you would have an ability to look at a larger portion of the city and control how that growth, or how that development, would look,” said City Attorney David Brinkley.
Prior to passing the ordinance, a lengthy discussion was held. Some council members had more reservations than others, mostly regarding how this will slow down the process for developers and how this might be perceived.
“My concern is if we pass this is it going to increase or decrease our ability to work with developers and our timeliness?” asked Councilman Dirk Burton. “I fear that this may slow things down and back things up.”
However, with how the ordinance is worded, items can be sponsored to be brought forward faster if speed is needed. Regularly, it will be the planning commission that will still review requests and put together the agendas for the set quarterly city council review.
“We need time to study impacts on other land use, on the transportations networks, on the utility infrastructure, on our parks,” said Langford in response to why this ordinance will help residents. “We feel strongly that if we group them in general context we can make better decisions overall.”
While the planning commission may not have as well-known of a role within the city, its work is just as vital as that of the city council.
Working in conjunction with the city council, the city planning commission meets twice monthly with meetings open to the public. According to the city website, “staff provides guidance for current development projects and long-range plans, goals, and strategies to improve development quality, to create a sense of community, and to ensure land use interactions occur at a human scale.”
Two major aspects of the guidance and strategies that the planning commission provide stem from the city’s Comprehensive General Plan (which was updated to its current version in 2012) and the Future Land Use Map.
The General Plan outlines separate areas of interest for the cities future, including a special section devoted to land use. At the time of publication in 2012, 6,500 acres in West Jordan were undeveloped or being used for agriculture.
With the rapid growth of West Jordan, those acres were not predicted to stay undeveloped long.
“We will not look at this ordinance as an excuse to slow anything down but rather to look at things holistically and overall make a better decision for the city,” said Langford.