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South Jordan Joins The Jordan River Commission

May 29, 2015 02:36PM ● Published by James Luke

The South Jordan City Council voted 4-1 to sign the Inter-Local Cooperation Agreement to join the Jordan River Commission and take a seat on the group’s governing board on April 21. Councilman Steve Barnes agreed to represent the city at the commission meetings. Dissenting Councilmember Chris Rogers expressed concerns over language in the agreement that seems to direct the commission to be more involved in local planning decisions than he would prefer.

The Jordan River Commission is a voluntary partnership of local governments, created in 2010. Now consisting of three counties -- Utah, Salt Lake and Davis -- and 12 cities, including South Jordan, as well as six other governmental and non-governmental partners, the commission grew out of Envision Utah’s development of Blueprint Jordan River. The effort considers improved regional and comprehensive approaches to accommodating a range of uses along the waterway that touches many different municipalities along its course from Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake

Flowing through through the heart of South Jordan, the river in the city includes:

• Some 6.3 miles of river frontage

• Nearly 250 acres preserved open space along the river (public and non-profit ownership)

• A total of 3 miles of Jordan River Parkway trail running through the city

“Water does not follow political boundaries,” Jordan River Commission executive director Lori Hansen explained at the city council work session before the vote. She noted that good planning and responsible decision making “that happens on the river corridor as a whole benefits the individual communities along the river.”

Hansen said that cities that belong to the commission see a return on their investment flowing back to them, many times the cost of annual membership -- just over $4,000. Whether a city has need for invasive weed eradication along the river, bank stabilization projects, trail access and development or more, the commission has the expertise to provide assistance, Hansen explained, as well as a proven record of helping cities to win grant funds that make limited local budgets go further.

The commission is a governmental agency that operates like a non-profit, Hansen explained. The commission’s 45-member Technical Advisory Board is staffed with specialists in civil planning and engineering as well as many sciences represented in the panel members’ training and experience. Hansen explained that the commission sees its role as assisting cities in offering analysis and advice on planning in the river corridor area, and also in partnering with cities in seeking grants for river-related projects. 

Dissenting councilmember Chris Rogers was concerned about language in the agreement that says “the commission will review all” submissions for development proposals in an area within a half-mile of the river. Hansen assured the council that the commission’s board has “no political will” to be involved in land use planning in cities that have not sought their aid. The board recently adopted a policy that clarifies that the commission will only render advice in planning and development projects upon a city’s direct request for assistance.  
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