WOODS CROSS – When the regional planning organization Envision Utah performed its first community-wide study more than 15 years ago, it found that most people wanted growth along the Wasatch Front to be more of the same Р single family homes on large lots.
The organization started by asking stakeholders about what they wanted the future to look like for their children and grandchildren. The same families who said they wanted more single-family homes also valued having good air quality, increasing transportation choices, preserving critical lands, conserving water resources, providing housing opportunities and maximizing efficiency in public investments.
The problem was that building more of the same was at odds with those values. By bringing stakeholders together in what they call strategic visioning sessions, Envision Utah has helped to make the Utah Transit Authority rail system a reality.
Its next aim is sustainable development that would accommodate a projected 2 million more people that will live in northern Utah by 2050, said Envision Utah President and CEO Robert Grow.
“That rail system is rescuing us, and it goes from Ogden to Provo on December 10,” he said. “We’re hoping stations will become examples of the right kind of growth for the future. To get the full advantage from (the rail system), we need to see the right kind of development around it.”
Farmington Station is a great example of that kind of development, Grow said, but other stations on the UTA Frontrunner line could stand to learn from its example.
Envision Utah is trying to help with that in places such as Woods Cross. There, the station is surrounded by fields and an oil refinery on one side, an industrial park a few blocks away, and I-15 to the east. That station is difficult to find, and far from the vision of a walkable center that’s close to shopping and employment.
In a luncheon meeting of the Davis Chamber of Commerce, attendees told Grow their values overlap with those first Envision Utah findings.
The government officials and business leaders said that they wanted the next generation to have job opportunities, clean air, a sustainable quality of life, safe places to raise families, affordable healthcare, clean water and transportation.
Getting there will take planning so we can understand the best scenarios in the face of an uncertain future, Grow said. The lives of our children and grandchildren depend on it.
Envision Utah is planning a new large-scale visioning study, but has yet to make specific plans public.
“Is the legacy we want to leave them an unplanned future where they have greater burdens to bear, or do we want to give them all the same choices we had?,” Grow asked the lunch crowd. “We have never been a people willing to leave the future to chance because we love our children and we love our grandchildren.”