Hot city council topics for 2017
Feb 10, 2017 11:51AM
● By Tori La Rue
The West Jordan City Council and city administration discussed the city’s most pressing issues at the city’s strategic planning session on Jan. 27. (West Jordan City)
West Jordan’s elected officials and administration discussed some of the most pressing issues in the city during their annual strategic planning session on Jan. 27. Residents can expect these subjects to resurface during 2017, so here’s a brief run-down of the council’s chosen topics.
While West Jordan’s development standards for new development contribute to the growth of the city’s west side, the city’s standards aren’t complete without in-depth infill development protocol, according to Councilman Chris McConnehey.
“We’ve seen, even tonight, a couple of items that are trying to take development standards set for new property and retrofit and squeeze them into these weird-shaped parcels, and it’s not working well,” McConnehey said during the Jan. 11 city council meeting.
McConnehey’s suggestion to discuss infill development during the strategic planning session came on the heels of the council’s approval of a rezone for 6.25 acres of property at 8679 South Redwood Road from rural residential to high-density planned residential development.
McConnehey expressed his opposition to the rezone, saying the developer was trying to use the planned residential development designation, usually used in expansive west-side properties, in an unfit place. He voted against the motion to approve the rezone, but the vote passed 4–3.
The city council has been working to set the water fee in the city since the 2016–17 budget was passed in June, but lack of time and the complex nature of the fee has prohibited the council from coming to a conclusive decision on water fees.
The city pays for its water through its own fund, called an enterprise fund. Enterprise funds are self-sustaining, so the balance of these funds must equal or exceed the cost it takes to operate and maintain utility service.
In a December meeting, city council members voted to increase commercial water rates from $1.28 to $1.50 per 1,000 gallons to help cover the rising cost of wholesale water the city purchases from the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District, but several council members also mentioned in the meeting that this might only be a temporary fix. This rate change was effective Jan. 1 and only applies to commercial, industrial and multi-family housing customers, not single-family customers.
Mayor Kim Rolfe suggested putting verbiage in city ordinance that would detail how much to raise water fees when the contracted cost goes up or down.
“I want to fix this once and for all,” he said. “It’s a situation where we put into the code for years in the future what to do for water rates under ordinance so it doesn’t have to be visited every-other year.”
West-side Rec Center
West Jordan leaders have taken the first steps toward creating a west-side recreation center to accommodate growth in that part of the city.
The planning and design of the center was approved and paid for in 2016. City leaders are also removing a detention pond from the intended site in the Ron Wood Park and working with the Utah Department of Transportation to construct a flyover bridge at 8600 South over the Mountain View Corridor to more easily deliver construction materials to the area.
Councilman Jeff Haaga suggested the council members plan how to continue moving forward at the strategic planning session, and Rolfe added it to the list of discussion
“We spent money on it,” Haaga said. “We have a visual of it, and I think it is something we can achieve, so I would like to set that as a goal.”
West Jordan could use some tidying up, according to council members Chad Nichols, Zach Jacob and Dirk Burton. That’s why they suggested city aesthetics be a major topic at the strategic planning session.
“My challenge to staff is to bring us a package of ordinances or budget amendments or whatever it might need to be to improve,” Jacob said.
Jacob suggested streetlight improvements, streetscaping upgrades and better upkeep of city-owned property as potential routes to help the city “look good.” Burton suggested filling in potholes, extending sidewalks and planting trees to replace damaged ones. Nichols said he’s like to see grander city entrances.
“I think that’s important,” he said. “I want people to think: ‘I’m here—I’m in West Jordan.’”
West Jordan will experience a busy traffic season next year as the storm drain project and road resurfacing of 7000 South continues, Bangerter intersections at 7000 South and 9000 South are converted into freeway-style interchanges, and other projects are underway. Councilman Chad Nichols asked his fellow council members to make transportation a focus of 2017.
“There’s more to be done with transportation,” he said. “We need to look into state and federal funding so that we can get our roads up to where they need to be instead of just waiting for these projects to come up in the hopper and come down the projects list.”
Councilman Chris McConnehey suggested elected officials and city staff take a look at expanding 1300 West and other routes to speed up east-to-west traffic.
“For all of us, we’ve done a campaign and know that this traffic is a bane of people’s existence in the city,” he said.
The newest member of West Jordan’s city council, Councilman Alan Anderson, suggested the council lay a vision for economic development throughout the city during the strategic planning session.
“Let’s really get into the second gear and third gear,” he said. “I think that is something we can accomplish in 2017.”
Anderson suggested the council and staff discuss more way to make West Jordan a “destination” instead of just a mark on the map.