By DANA KLEVEN
Utah is one of the fastest growing states in the nation. Envision Utah hopes to ease the growing pains.
“We invite residents to come and sit down at a map of the sub-region and to give us their ideas on how growth should take place,” said Julie Hillman, Envision Utah public awareness manager.
Envision Utah is a partnership organized by a group of Utah residents to promote quality growth, Hillman said.
Around 15 meetings promoting quality growth have already taken place in cities and towns all along the Wasatch Front.
“Basically, we want to help residents form a long-term vision to guide Utah’s future,” Hillman said.
Envision Utah is looking ahead to 2020 and 2050 with concerns like transportation, air quality, affordable housing and open space, Hillman said.
“It’s important to look ahead and look at these things,” said Betty Lamb, with the Orem City Planning Commission and recent attendee at a growth meeting.
The State Office of Planning and Budget projects that the region will grow to 2.7 million residents by the year 2020 whereas now the population is 1.6 million. By the year 2050 the number is expected to rise to 5 million — the present size of Philadelphia.
“The thing that I am concerned about is…I don’t see how we can avoid the scary urban sprawl that everybody’s worried about,” Lamb said.
Some seem to fear that it’s too late to save farmland.
“The farmlands have pretty much disappeared now,” said Nell Gurr an Orem resident.
In January, Envision Utah will present three main growth scenarios to the public during a large public awareness campaign. Residents will once again have the chance to voice their opinions on which scenario they think will be best for the region.
“What we’re hoping will happen through the feedback that we get is that it will help us to see what residents are willing to do in order to provide a better future for our children and grandchildren,” Hillman said.
Lamb said at the meeting she attended she noticed considerable differences in how other people plan for the future.
“I think people realize there has to be some sort of cooperation going on. We have to listen to different sides and come to a consensus as to what is going to be best for the overall community,” Hillman said.
One misconception people seem to have is that most of the growth is because of migration from other states.
“In actuality two-thirds of (Utah’s) growth is internal and just a third of that is from migration,” Hillman said. “The fact is that when people think about growth, there is a tendency to say ‘well if people would just stop moving in,’ but it’s not just people moving in, it’s our own children that we’re talking about providing homes for and providing a future that will be desirable for them.”