Pressure to develop one of Davis County's last rural, unincorporated areas will intensify over the next few years as the new county jail and court complex is built west of Farmington, residents have been told.

In a public-forum session held last week by the Farmington Planning Commission, residents of West Farmington eyed development and master-plan proposals prepared by Farmington City Planner Bob Scott and county planning staff member Barry Burton.Major factors in the development of West Farmington are the new jail and county court facility, the shoreline and adjacent wetlands of the Great Salt Lake, availability of utilities, and the proposed West Davis Highway, Burton said.

The jail and court complex, with its adjacent county fairgrounds site, will bring water and sewer lines to part of the area, Burton said, and will eventually be the key to more development and eventual annexation into Farmington.

The West Davis Highway location is a major unknown, Scott said. Initial plans called for it to be built along the Denver & Rio Grande Western railroad property.

Scott said although the D&RGW no longer runs trains on the tracks, it appears the railroad has no intention of giving up its claim on the right of way. That would force officials to relocate the highway farther west, possibly running near the electrical power transmission towers that now skirt the lake.

Access roads connecting the highway to I-15, especially State Street,which will also serve the new jail, will have to be improved, Burton said, and the presence of a four-lane highway will increase pressure for commercial and light industrial development.

About 75 residents and property owners attended the forum, many reminding the planners and Planning Commission members they want to maintain the rural lifestyle that attracted them to the area. Much of the property is still in agriculture or pasture use and most of the homes are on multi-acre parcels, used for horse property.

Proposals in two master-plan concepts presented by Burton and Scott show higher density housing, on half- or third-acre lots, between the I-15 corridor and the jail site.

Housing becomes less dense, going to one-acre parcels, farther west, eventually opening up to multi-acre small farm or ranchette use on the western half of the area.

The plans also call for turning Farmington Creek banks into a linear park, with hiking and horse trails, and an access point and recreation site where the creek flows into the Great Salt Lake. Scott said the city would eventually like to establish a park all along the creek, from where it flows out of Farmington Canyon in the foothills to the lake.

A second access point on the lake, possibly at the western end of Burke Lane, is also included in the master-plan proposals.

Before the public forum, the Planning Commission got its first look at the new jail complex site plan. The commission appeared favorably impressed with the proposal, asking about parking, access, and landscape design.

The commission set an Oct. 13 public hearing on the jail site plan and an Oct. 27 public hearing on the West Farmington master-plan proposals. The commission is asking that letters and written comments on the West Farmington plan be submitted by Oct. 10.