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The City Journals

Looking at the past

Jan 18, 2017 04:18PM ● By Cassie Goff

GIS Specialist Kevin Sato recently put together a “Then and Now” map of Cottonwood Heights. On this map, users can view what the current land of the city looked like from the 1940s. Land ownership information from the 1800s is also provided with a click. (Kevin Sato/Cottonwood Heights)

By Cassie Goff   |  [email protected]
Many new developments have been popping up all over Cottonwood Heights, like the new city hall and the remodeled Butler Elementary. With these new developments, memory of what the land used to look like is lost. Now there is a way to view some of the visual and informational history of the land within the city.  
On Jan. 15, Geographic Information System (GIS) Specialist Kevin Sato demonstrated his new interactive map for the city council members. When users open the interactive map, “Cottonwood Heights — Then and Now, a map of the city split by a gray bar appears. To the left of the gray bar, the current Google Earth map of the city is shown through an aerial view. To the right of the gray bar, a historic map of the city is shown. Users can navigate throughout the city to see what specific areas looked like historically, up to 100 years ago.
As Sato demonstrated the functionality of the map for the mayor and council, many excited remarks were made.
“This is amazing!” said Assistant Chief Mike Watson.
To create the “Then” section of the map, Sato incorporated information provided by the Cottonwood Heights Historic Committee, along with additional historic maps. One was provided by Sandy City’s GIS administrator, Ray Montgomery, who found a historic map of the entire area and shared it with Sato. This map shows many farms, orchards and fields occupying the land during the 1940s. It also provides information about land ownership from the 1800s.
“On the current side, you can click on the map and it will tell you who owned that piece of property in the 1800s,” Sato said.
Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore said the map was something people would find very interesting.
“It’s an easy way to learn about the city,” he said
There are many other interactive maps on the city website, as well. The “Cottonwood Heights – General Information” map provides information about zoning, land use, council districts and natural hazards. Sato recently added subdivisions to this map, as well. Each of these categories has its own specific map, which can be found through the different tabs on the top banner of the page.
“What’s nice about it is you can go to any address, click on where you live, find out what subdivision you live in and pull up the plaque. You can look at easements and legal descriptions,” Sato said.
Many people in the past have called the city for this information, but now “you can find it online and download it directly to your computer,” said Sato.   
The zoning map specifically has been very useful. Sato said users can click to find out about any zone and information about the zone.
Community and Economic Development Director Brian Berndt said both residents and staff members will find the information useful.
The “Cottonwood Heights – Commerce Guide” shows many of the different businesses throughout the city, pinned onto the map. A directory of the businesses is also provided by category, allowing residents to quickly find local dentists, restaurants and shops.
“The left side goes by the type of business you are looking for,” Sato explained.
“The map is updated every time we get new business licenses,” Berndt said.
However, home businesses are not included on the map. Currently, staff is working to add a real-estate subcategory to the directory.
The “Cottonwood Heights — Bikeways and Urban Trails” map shows the Bikes and Trails Master Plan for the city through the use of proposed bike lanes and potential urban trail markings. It also shows existing bike lanes and urban trails.
The “Cottonwood Heights — DNR Wildfire Risk Assessment” map is updated by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and provides information about threat levels in specific areas. The city is mindful of this information when considering planning.
Additional maps include “FEMA National Flood Hazards,” “Natural Hazards,” “Soil Classification” and “Topographic Contours.”
Sato put together the “Topographic Contours” map recently, with Salt Lake County reference.
“This is specifically good information for gardeners within the city,” said Sato.
City Manger John Park said the city can use the map because they need to know what the slopes are in the area.
The planning department has other maps in the works, coming soon. They hope to have a map highlighting where building permits have been issued. Since the city is only 11 years old, this will help the planning staff understand the historical significance of what the county had previously done with issuing permits.
 “We hope to promote local information that’s available to everybody,” said Berndt.
These maps are available through the city website, Once on the website, simply hover over the City Services tab and choose Community Development. Underneath the banner, there is a link to see the interactive maps, marked by a boundary map of the city. A new page will appear, called Maps. To access the maps, click the link.
You can also access the map directly here: