Saturday, April 02, 2005

Regional Facilities Need Help

A story in this morning's Deseret News once again highlights the issue of how we plan and get in place needed facilities that serve more than one community (regional facilities). This issue came to a head in the 2004 legislature when a serious fight was underway between the Metro Water District and Draper City over where to build a major water treatment plant. A bill was passed that requires cities and counties, and special districts, school districts and major public utilities to at least notify each other when they adopt or modify their plans, so others can know what they are considering. The referenced story is about the on-going debate in the placement of a sewage treatment plant in the Jordan River bottom in Riverton. After months of contentious meetings, the Riverton Planning Commission gave preliminary approval to the facility, but a group of citizens vows to continue to fight it.

This year's legislature considered a bill by Rep. Greg Hughes, HB126, that would have required cities and counties to consider a variety of issues relating to regional facilities before they acted upon them. The bill seemed like it was going to go forward, but died in the last days of the session, reportedly because special districts had some concerns. Odd, since this bill would have at least brought to light some of the more relevant regional considerations that need to be given to these kinds of facilities.

This example serves as a continuing example of the issues that beset dealing with such needed regional facilities -- how, in our fragmented local governmental structure, do we deal with facilities and services that are needed for our metropolitan areas? The Salt Lake metro area (or the Wasatch Front metro area, if you prefer), like metro areas all around the nation and the world, functions economically and socially like one large unit, but we have problems dealing with regionwide needs to keep things working efficiently and effectively, like water treatment, sewage treatment, transit (witness the on-going debate about Utah County's involvement in UTA), and other regional functions.

We need to step up to the plate and make some concrete moves in the direction of more effective metro-wide effectiveness, if we are to have a high-quality metropolitan community.

9 Comments:

At 9:02 PM, Blogger Planski said...

Riverton and planning. What an oxymoron. Its bottom dollar over there, and political favor trading. Who is on the Board of the South Valley Sewer District? Go look, and you will see. The residents can appeal all they want, but it appears that will be taken care of, too. Can you ever see the legislature adopting some law with actual teeth for regional facility control? They can't even allow the cities to regulate charter schools, which are private businesses, by the way, even if the school district gives them a charter to operate. Every year, the legislature just exempts something else. A good idea for a Vegas odds maker: which cause or business sector will get the favor in 2006? Is it time for the billboard laws to change again?Lets just exempt big boxes and all subdivisions and get done with it. Put the planners out of their misery.

 
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