Salt Lake County Township General Plans; Magna, Millcreek, & Kearns, UT

Working on a team at CRSA, VODA worked with the public, elected and appointed officials, and Salt Lake County planning staff to create  new general plans for Millcreek, Kearns, and Magna Townships.  An innovative new format was selected early in the planning process to make the document more understandable to the general public, as well as more useful for officials and staff responsible for implementing the plan within the Townships. In 2010 these three Township General Plans were awarded a “plan development” award by the Utah Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Responsible for planning in unincorporated areas of Salt Lake County, the Long Range Planning department of Salt Lake County directed the process of analyzing existing planning documents and crafting new documents to be adopted. The new format simplified the general plans into three primary sections: Context, Best Practices, and Projects. This format focuses on actions to be taken to improve the Townships,  based on public input, and is organized to work in the context of the Salt Lake County budgeting cycle.

The Context section is an analysis of the Township, based on conventional planning organization: history, existing land uses, transportation,  capital facilities, housing, and parks and open space. This section serves as the basis for future decision making, ensuring that any action is context sensitive, and tailored to meet the specific needs of the Township.  This section also contains goals and objectives crafted by the public and elected officials, which drive the planning process going forward.

The Best Practices section is composed of concise, topical policy documents covering a variety of planning concepts, such as housing, land use and mobility, sustainability, energy, parks and open space, etc. This individual documents are not specific to the Township, but are merely a collection of “best practices” throughout the planning world, intended to guide decision making related to these topics. Acting as a “planning encyclopedia,” the Best Practices section is open ended, and will be added to in the future as additional issues need to be addressed within the County.  This section is easily used by all stakeholders, particularly the public, who can turn to a specific topic when there is any question as to what the County’s policy is relative to planning in that area.

The Projects section is a listing of all projects desired to be implemented within the Township. These projects are proposed by the public and elected officials, and are reviewed annually by the Salt Lake County Council to determine which projects have the potential for funding for the year. The Projects section is to be updated annually as well by the community councils within the Townships to add additional projects that have come to their attention.

The planning process for these plans included many public meetings and weekly coordinate with Salt Lake County planning staff. The final documents were successfully adopted by the Salt Lake County Council in 2009. The format for these plans has subsequently been used for the Salt Lake County Cooperative Plan, and will be used for future planning efforts in additional Townships within Salt Lake County.