Maximizing Utah County’s Commuter Rail Stations (Dec. 2008)
On December 10th, Envision Utah provided an educational forum at the Provo city hall for Utah County municipalities. Envision Utah’s planning director, Gabe Epperson, discussed Utah growth trends and reviewed the Wasatch Front Transit Oriented Development Guidelines. (This resource is free to municipalities and can be obtained by contacting Kevin at envisionutah.org.) These guidelines provide practical instruction on developing transit-oriented development (TOD) and are based on four Utah TODs. Representatives from nine cities participated.
“Future commuter rail stations will significantly change Utah County,” said Epperson. “Municipalities need to plan now to maximize these public/private investments.”
Chad Eccles, Mountainland Association of Governments’ transit program manager spoke on TOD possibilities in Utah County. Dave Petersen, Farmington City’s community development director, shared lessons from his city’s TOD experience, and Michael Brodsky, founder, owner, and chairman of the Hamlet group of companies, discussed real challenges with building a TOD in Murray.
Wasatch Choices 2030 Educational Forum (Oct. 2007)
Envision Utah co-sponsored (along with the Utah Transit Authority, Wasatch Front Regional Council, Mountainland Association of Governments and the Utah Quality Growth Commission) an educational forum on October 16, 2007 entitled “Do Nothing or Do Something: A Practical Land-Use and Transportation Workshop Shaping the Future of the Wasatch Front.” The workshop promoted the growth principles and strategies from 2006’s Wasatch Choices 2040 process.
Dr. Hugo Rodier, Medical Director of the Pioneer Clinic, said that “we need to build cities on the human scale, not the automobile scale” in part due to negative health trends, including obesity and asthmas. John Inglish, General Manager of the Utah Transit Authority, said that “audacious infrastructure investments transform our economy,” and predicted that the nation is on the cusp of major public transportation investment.
Alan Matheson, Envision Utah’s Executive Director, reviewed the Wasatch Choices 2040 process, where 1000 citizens participated, and the growth strategies that came out of this effort:
- Develop a local land reuse strategy
- Provide incentives for contiguous growth and infill
- Preserve future transportation and utility corridors
- Create walkable commercial and mixed-use districts
- Plan for transit-oriented development
- Plan for and build neighborhood-friendly elementary schools
- Create a plan for housing people can afford
- Interconnect roadways and pedestrian paths
- Plan for job centers and economic development readiness
- Plan to minimize development and maximize conservation on and near critical lands
Workshop participants applied the growth strategies to five case studies and discussed opportunities to promote quality growth, such as growing political support, community acceptance, growing partnerships, and creative funding sources.
With other community partners, we will work with local municipalities on implementing the growth strategies and principles.
Brownfield Redevelopment Solutions (May 2006)
On May 31, 2006, Envision Utah unveiled its new resource, “Brownfield Redevelopment Solutions,” to a full room in the Wells Fargo Building. Representatives from more than 20 municipalities participated. This toolbox expedites the redevelopment of contaminated properties without sacrificing environmental and land-use standards. To create this toolbox, Envision Utah brought together local public and private sector experts in various aspects of brownfield renewal, and this interaction helped each to better appreciate the intricacies of brownfield redevelopment and to streamline the process.
This toolbox guides the reader step-by-step through a typical brownfield redevelopment process, citing local examples and other beneficial resources. This toolbox serves as a resource not only for those new to brownfield redevelopment, but also as a reference for professionals with years of experience.
“We have a tremendous opportunity in the region as we look forward and solve enduring environmental problems,” said Dr. Dianne Nielsen, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, who welcomed the attendees.
“This toolbox represents a major milestone in environmental programs,” said Brad Johnson, Director, Division of Environmental Response and Remediation. “It will help all of us to do our jobs and to efficiently reuse these brownfield sites. I commend Envision Utah for bringing all these parties together in the same room.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the American Express Center for Community Development provided funding for this new toolkit.
With many tracts of land contaminated from previous businesses, reusing a brownfield is like recovering a community’s hidden assets.
Workforce Housing (Feb. 2006)
On February 22, 2006, Envision Utah introduced its new housing resource, Workforce Housing: Markets, Realities, Concerns and Solutions.
Utah’s demographics are undergoing dramatic changes that drive demand for a broader diversity of housing types than is now available, yet many communities are apprehensive about changes they perceive such housing may bring. Created with the help of a stakeholder committee of local housing experts, this resource includes research on:
- Utah’s changing housing market
- Potential advantages and negative impacts of multi-family housing on property values, parking, traffic, congestion and crime
- Public opinion and attitudes toward housing alternatives
- Model ordinances, innovative zoning strategies, and compatible design criteria
The Workforce Housing toolkit has been funded by the American Express Center for Community Development, Chevron Texaco, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation, Fannie Mae, Garbett Homes, Morgan Stanley Bank, the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund, and Wells Fargo Bank.
Additional information can be found "Toolbox" section labelled "Compact Housing"
Wasatch Choices 2040: Quality of Life Survey
Wasatch Choices 2040 is a four-county land use and transportation collaboration between Wasatch Front Regional Council, Mountainland Association of Governments, and Envision Utah. This visioning process actively engaged the citizens and elected officials of the region. It examined implications of transportation and land-use alternatives on the region’s future and sought to formulate consensus on a shared vision of regional growth. The input and findings from this process have been utilized in the update of the formal long range Regional Transportation Plan adopted by Wasatch Front Regional Council and Mountainland Association of Governments.
The links below provide Information presented at public open house meetings held in July and August of 2005.
- Scenarios Overview (PDF 1.3 MB)
- How the Scenarios Compare - Performance Measures (PDF 283 KB)
- Process Flow Chart (PDF 61 KB)
Municipal Economic Development (May 2005)
Created with the assistance of local officials and economic development experts, the American Planning Association, and the firms of FutureWorks and ECONorthwest, the Envision Utah Municipal Economic Development Toolbox was unveiled on May 13, 2005. Over 100 people, including representatives from Utah’s United States Senators, one congressman, one state department, six counties, and 24 local municipalities attended the education forum.
The toolbox outlines action steps for cities to promote business growth and retention and quality office development through the local planning process. Because of financial pressures, municipalities often focus on residential and retail development – leaving research parks, manufacturing plans, warehouses and other valuable job sites on the backburner to develop haphazardly or not at all. This, in turn, hinders job growth and leads to employment concentration in fewer and more distant locations.
As a region, our challenge is to identify strategies that balance local autonomy and private property rights with the need for jobs which provide the economic foundation for our quality of life and community prosperity.
Copies of the "Local Government Economic Development Toolbox" can be found in the "Toolbox" section under "Resources"
Roundtable Discussion on Sales Tax Policy (Jan. 2004)
In January 2004, Envision Utah brought together mayors, developers, legislators, and economic development officials for a roundtable discussion on the impact of development decisions by the current sales tax laws. The laws create competition among communities for sales tax dollars and sometimes drive development decisions. Participants discussed the possibility of changing the formula to recognize factors other than population, such as job sites and housing.
Former Envision Utah Chair and State Senator Greg Bell, who had been planning to seek a legislative study of the issue, decided to wait a year until the Utah League of Cities and Towns looked at the overall tax situation in municipalities as well as the sales tax formula.
As this topic was part of the original Quality Growth Strategy and was re-identified as a major growth issue by Envision Utah’s 200 regional stakeholders in 2003, Envision Utah will continue to monitor the issue and bring stakeholders together as the issue develops. Envision Utah does not lobby.
Understanding the 2002 U.S. Farm Bill & Transfer of Development Rights (Oct. 2003)
In 2003, Envision Utah sponsored two successful forums in Davis County, Understanding the 2002 U.S. Farm Bill and Understanding Transfer of Development Rights. Experts from the Natural Resources Councils Service (NRCS) discussed programs listed under the 2002 Farm Bill that were of special interest to owners of sensitive shore land areas, such as land preservation funding. Several property enhancement programs were also discussed. The program highlighted the fact that Utah farmers have missed out on millions of dollars of funding without matching grant sources in the state.
The second forum focused on the possibility of transfer-of-development rights (TDR) in several jurisdictions. (TDR is a zoning tool that enables landowners in planned preservation areas to sell density to landowners where higher density is more appropriate.) Pilot TDR programs have been drafted for Layton, West Point and Farmington.
Of note, Envision Utah instigated a continued discussion between the NRCS and Davis County to explore a unique way to match funds of the Farm and Ranchland Protection funds.
Davis County’s west side contains much open land that is marginally suitable for development due to the high water table and wetlands, yet the area contains significant developable acreage that is in high demand by developers. In 2000 and 2001, Envision Utah and the Davis County Council of Government’s Open Space Subcommittee hosted community workshops to envision the Davis County Shorelands Plan for the Great Salt Lake’s eastern shoreline. The plan outlines an approach to balance critical land preservation and development interests. All ten municipalities either adopted the Plan into their master plan or passes resolutions supporting it.
Not a Stop, But a Destination (Nov. 2002)
Recognizing that the Wasatch Front can develop in a way that improves mobility choices, including public transportation, while planning more attractive, healthy and vibrant neighbohoods, Envision Utah brought together local and national experts to discuss Utah transit-oriented development (TOD) possibilities.
TOD creates destinations with housing, retail, employment, entertainment and services around transit stations. Pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use developments around stations encourage transit ridership, contribute to neighborhood livability, expand housing options, and promote infill and redevelopment of underutilized land.
Over 200 engineers, elected officials, planners, architects and other interested citizens participated in the event.
If Density Is the Problem, Design Is the Answer (May 2002)
Envision Utah and Fannie Mae co-sponsored a forum on how to plan vital, attractive neighborhood developments that enhance a community and accommodate a variety of housing choices. Local and national experts provided training. For many the word "density" continues to be negatively seen, but there is a growing awareness that a variety of housing options are needed to meet the market and social trends. More than 200 elected officials, developers, realtors, planners and lenders participated in the discussion.
Public Safety and Street Design (May 2001)
Many municipalities are reevaluating their street design standards and are starting to accommodate a narrow street design concept. On May 8, 2001, Envision Utah co-sponsored an all-day symposium where over 150 safety officials gathered to address this topic from both a traffic and public safety point of view, hearing from professionals nationally and locally who have made changes in their communities.
On a national scale, citizens are making attempts to reclaim streets for pedestrian use and safety. Envision Utah identified communities engaging in successful street design standards and traffic calming, what streets are conducive to calming in the hierarchy of a street system, strategies for a successful emergency response layer in the transportation element of the city’s comprehensive plan, and traffic calming to create walkable neighborhoods.
Telework (Aug. 2001 and June 2000)
In August 2000 and June 2001, Envision Utah co-sponsored two morning seminars. In August, Envision Utah looked to local business leaders and key stakeholders for their input on how to overcome the legal and human resource barriers on implementing telework.
Participants were asked to work together in groups and identify the legal challenges associated with teleworking and a list of general policies and implementation strategies that will help guide business leaders in implementing a successful telework program. At the June seminar, the technological aspects of teleworking, especially during the 2002 Winter Olympics, were the main focus.
Sales Tax Policy, Land-Use & Smart Growth (2000)
Envision Utah, the Utah Chapter of the American Planners Association, and Grub & Ellis Realty co-sponsored this informative conference, which focused on the difficulties of achieving quality growth with current tax policies as well as some viable solutions for local communities. Former Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Zimmerman moderated a panel discussion. Panelists remarked that local governments derive a disproporti9onaal part of their revenues from sales taxes, and that they are forced to compete to lure top tax producers to their communities. Corporate America has become adept at exploiting this competition. Among the most salient points of this discussion are the following:
- The rest of the West will soon have no other options except to follow California’s trends of dramatic increases in the rates of growth, urbanization and diversification.
- It’s not hard to justify one’s actions when one Wal-Mart generates local revenues equivalent to 1000 $250,000 houses and consumes much less land.
- Major big-box retail stores currently have a horizon of five to eight years, after which many move on, littering the landscape with large empty retail buildings.
- The total cost of tax exemptions should be “booked” in the state budget each year to taxpayers can get a clear idea how much revenue is lost for that purpose.
- A “hold harmless” provision embedded in any code revision seems feasible to administrate this, and there needs to be a consensus in the legislature toward a solution of these problems.
Commuter Solutions (Oct. 2000)
In October 2000, Envision Utah, the Utah Transit Authority, the Utah Department of Transportation, and others co-sponsored a Commuter Solutions conference that brought together transportation experts, business leaders, employee transportation coordinators, local government officials, and the general public to discuss the need for increasing and enhancing Transportation Demand Management programs along the Greater Wasatch Front. The conference addressed HOV lanes, Commuter Choice Tax Benefit, Transportation Demand Management, marketing, alternative fuel vehicles, new technology, and other related issues.
Water Conservation (Nov. 2000)
In November 2000, Envision Utah co-sponsored a conference designed to increase the environmental knowledge of water conservation to hotel and restaurant leaders. A panel discussion on a new way of doing business and understanding water efficiency for the 21st century helped participant understand the impact water conservation can have on a community. Competition is increasing throughout Utah in the lodging and restaurant industry. Maximizing “bottom line” profits through managing operating costs more effectively is critical. In addition, “environmental friendliness” can be a positive marketing tool.
Participants not only learned proven methods for decreasing water use and increasing efficiency but also began formulating partnerships between water providers, lodging and restaurant businesses, and the EPA. Participants were able to obtain free software to evaluate water efficiency options for their facilities.