By Scott Bartlett
It’s been 12 years since Murray City updated its General Plan, the document intended to guide the city’s development. The plan was to be relevant for about a decade, and City officials, residents, and contractors are now working to update it. The task before them is to balance what the residents want, what the City needs, and what commercial and development markets might pursue, crystal ball not included.
The plan addresses such issues as land use, transportation, historic preservation, recreation, economic development and housing. The City has contracted with the planning firm CRSA to guide the plan revisions. Assisting with transportation planning is Hales Engineering. Both companies have offices in Utah and Idaho and have completed multiple similar projects.
Per the City’s General Plan update website, the current General Plan “has helped the City and decision makers evaluate development proposals and implement desired opportunities in the community over the past 12 years.”
Murray residents packed an April 22 open house to find out what might go into the revised General Plan, as well as to provide their input. On hand were CRSA and Hales Engineering representatives and City planners. Residents were asked to consider the City as a whole as well as by region, and were given maps to mark up with their ideas as to how the City should evolve.
Murray residents at an April 22 open house learn about the General Plan update.
Among the ideas presented for consideration were: connect downtown and transportation-oriented district; link Intermountain Medical Center to surrounding areas and enhance neighborhood/retail nodes. Residents offered goals to make those ideas happen, with the intent that those ideas and goals would drive the revisions to the General Plan.
The hot topics among residents at the open house were high density and low income housing. Most in attendance recognized that both are necessary, or at least inevitable, and wondered how they might best plan for them. Another common sentiment among those in attendance was that people love living in Murray, at least in part because of its central location.
“The difficulty is balancing preservation with development: what residents want versus what developers want,” said Susan Dewey, associate city planner. Dewey also stated that the city prefers development to be market-driven rather than city-driven, and that the General Plan gives the city the ability to approve or deny developer proposals.
Dewey stated that the biggest challenge areas in planning are the City’s transportation-oriented district and its downtown district. Goals from the previous version of the General Plan that were not met include the improvement or expansion of the City’s open space and agricultural areas. Some properties will likely be rezoned as a result of the plan update.
The message Dewey would share with everyone affected by the General Plan is “how critical the plan is as a foundation for their neighborhoods, and the city as a whole.”
This open house continues the update project that began late 2014, and follows the work of focus groups and committees to gather as much relevant data and input as possible. From here, the City and its contractors will begin to draft the update. Another open house will be held in October 2015 to present the proposed plan update to the public.
Once the plan update is complete, it will be presented to the planning commission in January or February 2016, with the commission sending the plan and its recommendation to the City Council for a public hearing in March 2016. The update will be made official only upon acceptance by the city council.
Anyone wishing to make comments or follow the update process can do so at www.planmurray.com