With scenarios ranging from maximizing backcountry skiing opportunities to hosting the Winter Olympics to developing the so-called Supertunnel, policy options for future canyon uses of local canyons is likely to spark public debate.
And that's just what Salt Lake County planners want.Friday, the county's Planning Division released its "Scenario and Policy Options for Salt Lake County Wasatch Canyons Master Plan," a 130-plus page book of issues, outlines, charts, matrices and maps.
The document is the most visible result of a long effort to prepare a master plan to guide the allocation of future residential, commercial and recreational uses in seven major canyons, as well as to establish management policies and plans for those uses.
The master planning efforts are focusing mainly on Big and Little Cottonwood canyons but will also affect City Creek, Red Butte, Emigration, Parleys and Millcreek canyons.
The final version of the canyon master plan is not likely to be adopted by the Salt Lake County Commission until next year. But county planners are hoping the public will look over the options document compiled by Bear West Consulting, use it as the basis for analysis and comparison and then offer their own ideas on the master plan.
Planners have scheduled two public hearings, one on July 27 at Olympus Junior High, 2217 E. 48th South, and the second Aug. 1 in the Commission Chambers of the County Government Center, 2001 S. State. Both hearings are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Copies of the options documents can be obtained from the county planning office in room N3700 at the government center, from the Whitmore Library main counter at 2197 E. 70th South and from Bear West Consulting at 9 Exchange Place (355 South).
The county planning office will host informal open house meetings to answer questions from 3 to 6:30 p.m. July 19-21, 26 and 28. Written comments can be submitted to Bear West or to county planners until 5 p.m. on Aug. 15.
County senior planner Cal Schneller, director of the master plan project, said none of the policy options and development scenarios outlined in the document are by themselves intended to be canyon development plans. Nor are any of the options preferred over others at this point.
Planners, with help from two review and advisory committees, will use public comment on the options document to prepare a preliminary master plan, which will be the subject of more hearings and another comment period.
Then a final master plan will be prepared, and following additional hearings, presented to the county planning commission and to county commissioners for approval.
It's expected that the final plan will include a mix of the options and scenarios comprising the options document.
The document illustrates five scenarios presented on maps, each displaying differing levels of residential and commercial development and differing recreational use priorities that might be permitted in the canyons.
The scenarios range from one that minimizes any development in favor of uses like hiking and cross-country skiing that require almost no improvements, to one that assumes maximized residential and commercial development, maximized downhill skiing and priority for motorized recreation uses, like snowmobiling.
Major issues to be considered as the final canyon master plan is prepared include the environmental impacts of canyon development, protection of watershed areas, possible construction of a ski resort interconnect, the charging of fees for some canyon uses and transportation questions.