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Monday, May 19, 2008

West Bench Plan Setback

The Salt Lake Tribune printed a story about a break down in the planning process for the West Bench today. An interesting story to say the least. The two parties do not seem to be planning as much as negotiating who will have control. In this they seem to be having a zero sum negotiation with no creativity whatsoever. This control is referred to by Kennecott as "vesting."

I can definitely see Kennecott's point of view on this one. If you are developing a few acres, then the time frame for the project will be short-term. You can be assured that politics will not change drastically and the atmosphere will be the same. On the other hand, Kennecott's endeavor has a time line that stretches to the end of this century. They want to make sure that the tides of political change do not treat their plans like an etch-a-sketch.

The representatives of Salt Lake County also have a valid point. They do not want to bind future administrations to the decisions that are made today. Apparently they cannot legally do this although that is probably debatable as well. By allowing Kennecott to set their plans in stone they feel as if they will have given a dictator control over planning of the West Bench. A dictator who will not relinquish control until the next century. Quite the dilemma.

These two views are not total polar opposites. If the two parties proposed more creative solutions, then I feel that they would not have encountered this impasse. However, from what I read in the paper, neither party seemed astute in communicating with one another. Months of unproductive meetings seemed to be the result. One quote really stands out from the others:

Joe Hatch, who recalled a similar politely worded threat in a private meeting earlier this year. "If you think that kind of threat is going to change our beliefs about planning and zoning," he remembers telling company officials, "it ain't going to work."
"Beliefs." To me that is a strong word. Would he be talking of new urbanism? Density? That is not clear, but obviously he did not like his negotiating position. Does Kennecott have to absolutely win his heart and mind? No.

The county even listed "lessons learned." These seem to concentrate on improving their negotiating position. An interesting lesson learned is that they apparently want to control all planning documents:
"Avoid giving the applicant - in this case, Kennecott - the right to write and produce planning documents. Control of those records must remain with the county, "no matter who is paying the bill."
The county doesn't even seem to keep track of what they disagree about. Another "lesson learned" is to
"Keep minutes to meetings to track ideas and define points of agreement and disagreement."
Wow, thats a novel idea. Who would think of keeping minutes so that they could reference them later. In my opinion the fault lies with both parties. I think that Kennecott could preserve their plans for the west bench and satisfy the demands of the county. Besides, there are no perfect plans. In the end, Kennecott definitely has the upper hand. Kennecott has other venues that it can pursue to accomplish their ends. With this action the county may have excluded itself from having a greater degree of influence on the West Bench. Instead of a comprehensive plan with one government entity, Kennecott will piece together their plan with the municipalities of the West side. Over which Kennecott will be able to exert and even greater influence than the county. From what I can see the break down will not halt Kennecott's plans, nor will they "crumble."


scoop said...

daybreak man-
we should combine our efforts, work together.

can you contact me?

Dave said...

agree. unfortunately, in my opinion, Kennecott will always be viewed as the "bad guy" in dealings with the public (large corporation, mining the earth, polluting, etc.). But Kennecott actually has the foresight to create a potentially sustainable solution to the inevitable population growth in the valley, whatever their motives may be. Thanks for keeping up to date with your blog, keep up the good work.

John said...

You've got a great blog here. I live in a master-planned community in Southern California (Ladera Ranch) and the only place we'd consider moving to in Utah is Daybreak (and will be in September). Your site makes me want to move there even more. Thanks for sharing.