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South Jordan Journal

South Jordan General Plan for development and growth

Feb 17, 2020 02:22PM ● By Susan Palmer

South Jordan’s population has more than doubled over the past two decades. (Susan Palmer/City Journals)

By Susan Palmer | [email protected]

There was a presentation of the draft General Plan for future planned development to the South Jordan City Council meeting on Jan 7. This plan has been in the making beginning in August 2018 and is nearing completion. 

Representatives from the consultant, Logan-Simpson, presented the plan to the city council. This plan is required by Utah State law, and without this in place it is difficult to get specific code changes proposed by landowners approved by the city council. A public hearing was opened at the council meeting; however, there was no input by any residents. There was no action taken on this plan at this meeting, and there will be an additional public hearing on this plan during the Jan. 21council meeting. 

“I believe that this plan reflects a lot of input from the citizens,” Planning Director Steven Schaefermeyer said as he was introducing the plan. “Some of them may not see what their input was in the plan, and there is definitely a balance to as to how to capture what the public is presenting.”

SoJo officials have set up a website to help gather public comment to There have been 37 opportunities for the public to make comments, and approximately 5,000 residents have provided input. The General Plan is a visionary document meant to reflect the desires of SoJo residents for future growth. This is a living document. Although it is meant to reflect the growth plans over a 20-year period, it is meant to be reviewed annually and updated appropriately. The plan tries to reflect decisions of where housing should be located, what are the transportation needs of the community, what types of parks and recreation facilities need to be added and areas of needed preservation. The draft plan was finally made public last September.

 Most of the land in SoJo is currently zoned, and the major zoning in the city now is for low-density housing. The General Plan is not a zoning map; it is just a plan where residential housing should be, where commercial should be and were mixed uses could be.

South Jordan was established in 1859; it was named after the Jordan River. South Jordan became incorporated on Nov. 8, 1935. Alexander Beckstead, a blacksmith from Ontario, Canada, moved to West Jordan in 1849, and he helped to dig the first ditch to divert water from the Jordan River to power Archibald Gardner’s flour mill. In 1859, he became the first resident of SoJo living in a dugout cut into the west bluff above the river. The flood plain of the river was level and good for farming. He created the “Beckstead Ditch” that is still in use today.

SoJo has a total area of 22.1 square miles with an elevation of 4,439 feet. The estimated population of SoJo is 75,000, and the U.S. census is scheduled for this year to confirm the current population. The density of the population is approximately 3,016 people per square mile. 

The demographics of growth of South Jordan:

Year Population

1940 869

1950 1,048

1960 1,354

1970 2,942

1980 7,492

1990 12,220

2000 29,437

2010 50,418

2018 74,149 estimated

South Jordan was originally settled as an agricultural community. In 1890, alfalfa hay was introduced as a livestock feed and took the place of tougher grasses. In 1910, sugar beets were introduced, and this crop could be easily sold to the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company factory in West Jordan. These crops became integral to the livelihoods of the early residents of SoJo. 

On Jan. 14, 1914, electrical power arrived in SoJo, and a large celebration was held for the momentous occasion. 

In 1935, the city was incorporated, as this was necessary step to obtain a federal grant for a water tank to store water for west side residents of SoJo. It was not until 1978 that the city moved to a mayor-council form of city governing. At that time SoJo assumed local responsibility for police, fire and building inspections from Salt Lake County.

The change in SoJo began in about 1990 when the land devoted to farming decreased from 489,000 to 108,000 acres. The largest change occurred in 2004 when Kennecott began to develop the Daybreak Community, a planned development, that would contain more than 20,000 homes and included commercial and retail spaces. This changed SoJo from a farming community to an urban community. In 1981, the Jordan River Utah Temple was built, and in 2009 the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple was created and South Jordan became the first city in the world to contain two Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint temples.

The challenge now is to develop SoJo into a community that reflects the desire of the residents. Traffic is a major concern of SoJo residents, as there are only two major roads to move traffic in the east–west direction with a population of 75,000 and growing. North–south traffic traverses by the Interstate 15, Bangerter Highway and Mountain View Corridor. Utah Transit Authority is serving SoJo residents with two TRAX stations: Daybreak North Station and Daybreak South Station. The travel to Salt Lake City is approximately 60 minutes by TRAX. A newer development is the smaller mini-buses that are also available in SoJo to help with the mobility of residents.

The input of SoJo residents is being solicited and is necessary to help the mayor-council government of the city to plan growth and development in South Jordan in a manner that reflects the resident’s needs and desires. More opportunities will exist for residents input to this general plan.

SoJo has more than doubled in population size in the last 20 years, and this is an effort to plan for what the future lifestyle will be.