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The City Journals

Upcoming hearing is last time for public input on City’s General Plan

Jul 27, 2021 11:34AM ● By Bill Hardesty

Economic development, such as the South City development, is a key part of the General Plan for SSL. (Courtesy of SSL)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

Starting in December 2020, SSL started to revise its General Plan. The effort is coming to an end with a public hearing in front of the South Salt Lake City Council scheduled for Aug. 11. Adoption could happen in that meeting or later.

The public hearing is the last time residents will have an opportunity to advise the City Council and City staff on the future vision of South Salt City.

“South Salt Lake is committed to making the plan magnify the voices of the community. If we are to truly build the kind of community that the residents of SSLC want to live in, we need to know what they want. We have spent the past several months listening to the residents and other stakeholders in the community, and the draft plan is the result of those conversations,” Julie Taylor, public relations coordinator with SSL, said.

The state requires a General Plan for Land Use decisions, such as where high-density housing is developed or where a large box store is allowed. Over the years, the General Plan has expanded its application and its size. Although the current General Plan was 185 pages, this 2040 General Plan is expected to be larger.

“The General Plan is designed to guide the City when making Land Use specific

decisions. The community values that are discussed will be beneficial to all City

leaders as they make strategic and operational decisions for the City,” Taylor said. “The General Plan is the foundational document that the City uses to guide development decisions and patterns in the City for at least the next decade.”

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,” said Sean Lewis, deputy director of community development.

According to the code, the General Plan must include a moderate-income housing plan, transportation, land use, and economic development. In addition, the General Plan may consist of 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.

“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 last December. “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.” 

The journey

The outreach initiative started with an interactive website (sslournextmove.org). On the website was a survey asking residents what they like and dislike in their neighborhood and in the city. In addition, there was a mapping exercise on the website where users point to something on the map they liked and point to something they disliked. A final activity on the site was to define your neighborhood.

In addition to gathering this data, the General Plan project team used surveys, including a value survey done by Y2 Analytics.

They conducted numerous interviews with city staff and community stakeholders. In addition, the team led group discussions with Promise SSL participants, Spanish speaking residents, Youth City Council leaders, and businesses in the Creative Industries Zone.

The project team wanted to hear from children and youth. So, they reached children from kindergarten through the 12th grade with age-appropriate engagements like drawings and essays.

Project team members had district conversations via Zoom w/ city council representatives and residents along with pop-up events at the senior center, Bickley Park and Central Park, including Coffee with a Cop. They discussed the findings, goals, and strategies in detail at numerous planning commission and city council work meetings.

Throughout the process, the team reached out using social media, the city’s website, newsletter, and utility bill inserts.

Key findings

Out of all that work came some common subjects: neighborhood livability, the city’s identity and pride, growth and general services.

Within each of these critical findings are a variety of comments and concerns. Accordingly, they were incorporated into a revised 2040 Vision Statement.

“South Salt Lake is a community that fosters diversity, equity, and inclusion. South Salt Lake is a city of safe and enduring neighborhoods where people are connected to jobs, vibrant retail areas, green spaces, and each other. As the City on the Move, we take advantage of our unique location and unparalleled transportation options. We are a modern city that is home to parks and green spaces, clean waterways, and sustainable services and policies. South Salt Lake residents embrace diversity, feel part of the community, and share an enthusiasm for their ‘small city with big opportunities.’”

Draft General Plan

A draft of the General Plan became available on July 22 on the city’s website. A draft of the plan will also be available at the Night Out event on Aug. 3 at Central Park.

“Once adopted, the full general plan will be available at sslc.com. It will also be broken

down and shared in smaller pieces via social media and other channels,” Taylor said.