Wasatch Environmental Update; Blue Ribbon Commission and Foothill Canyon Overlay Zone

Wasatch Env Update img

Wasatch Environmental Update for October 27, 2013

By John Worlock, Member, SOC Board of Directors

“Blue Ribbon Commission and Foothill Canyon Overlay Zone”

For all of its four decades, Save Our Canyons has focused its primary attention on the nearby canyons of the Central Wasatch Range.  Our defining purpose has been a dedication to “protecting the wildness and beauty of the Wasatch Mountains, Canyons and Foothills.”  Since most of our purview lies within Salt Lake County, we have been both partners with and opponents of the County in the changes that have taken place in the past four decades.

In 1997, Salt Lake County adopted an ordinance called the Foothills and Canyons Overlay Zone, or FCOZ.  The purpose of FCOZ was to achieve a balance between environmental protection and property rights.  The protection of the watershed was a primary driver for the FCOZ ordinance.

This was a pretty good ordinance, and we note here that our major conflict with the county occurred when they saw fit to override their own ordinance and give a green light for Tavaci’s illegal access road at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Anyhow, Save Our Canyons has been happy for the past year to have our Executive Director, Carl Fisher, sitting on the so-called Blue Ribbon Commission, formed to give citizen input, guidance and vision for a 21st century update to the County’s FCOZ Ordinance.  The Commission has now concluded its work and sent its recommendations to the Salt Lake County Council and planning staff.

Briefly, we review the recommendations cover:  1) Environmental Protection and Aesthetics, 2) Watershed Protection, 3) Private Property Considerations, 4) Transportation, Access and Public Infrastructure, including Public Health and Safety, and 5) Recreation, both dispersed and commercial.  This list reminds us that our Canyons serve an important variety of interests.

In addition to these generalities, there some new specific recommendations: 1) to note that “One Size Does Not Fit All,” meaning that each canyon and each locale has its own characteristic uses and needs, 2) to designate a specific new Mountain Resort Zone, and 3) to provide a solution for the problem of transfers of development rights for properties severely constrained by zoning.

For the full report, and more, go to www.slco.org

We will follow with interest the County’s response to this document.  We also promise to be vigilant to see that they enforce their own zoning laws.


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