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A New General Plan for the County

New County General Plan Map
Article Date: 
24 December, 2010 - 06:00

At the council meeting on Tuesday the county council passed the general plan.  It took about fifteen minutes, but the plan itself has been many years in the creation.  The general plan sets the foundation for the direction of the county in years to come. It is an integration of several plans and processes that have developed long term planning goals and objectives for Morgan County’s future growth.  Utah State Code (17-27a-401) requires Counties to have a General Plan.  Morgan County’s was adopted in 1999. There have been minor changes made to the document since then; but it was time to review and update the plan to reflect the growth and include the planning efforts that had been ongoing over several years.
Rapid growth hit Morgan County in 2004.  That growth spurred the planning process.  Morgan County hired a planner to supplement the efforts of the county engineer in the planning and zoning office.  Due to several incoming rezone applications and/or subdivision applications, it became apparent that it was time to update some of Morgan County’s  area plans to help implement growth strategies for the County.  There are eight area plans which are used in a supportive role in developing the General Plan.  Incorporating the suggestions of these plans into the General Plan validates their goals and objectives. Area Plans detail the vision of growth for the individual areas.  They are developed and written by people chosen and appointed by the Council.  They live in the area being planned for.  The County tries to update these area plans every five years, or more frequently if called for.   The Peterson Area Plan was updated in 2005; Enterprise 2007; Porterville/Richville 2008; Milton 2010.  The Round Valley area was looked at during the negotiations with Ravala, but was not updated.  The Planning Commission has determined that two area plans are currently in need of updating, Croydon/Lost Creek and Stoddard/North Morgan.
The Mountain Green Area Plan was updated in 2000, 2005, and again in 2010 due to its designation as a future town as well as the large growth occurring there.  Morgan County and developers within Morgan County were trying to determine what, where and how much could be built.  In 2007, when the 2005 Area Plan was being reviewed by the Planning Commission in conjunction with an application, it was determined that there was very little detail about the town center, where it would be and how it should develop.  There was much discussion on the topic and Member Tony Pantone, a member of the AIA (American Institute of Architects), suggested having the AIA Utah Northern section assist Morgan County with the design of the town center.  That resulted in the creation of the Mountain Green DAT (Design Assistance Team) which engaged in a very intense, eight month process which culminated in a visit by the DAT team to consult with Mountain Green residents and County Staff to compile the Mountain Green DAT recommendations (a forty page document) for where the town center should be located and what approximate densities the town center could sustain.  
After the DAT was completed, Envision Utah approached Morgan County with a plan to help Morgan plan for future growth.  Envision Morgan was a seven month process (May-November 2008) that looked out 30 years to project how much growth Morgan would see as well as determine what vision the  residents of Morgan had for their community and to help them plan for the growth and incorporate their vision of how and where the growth should occur.  This process involved many people including the County Council, the Planning Commission, the City Council, a large steering committee as well many people from the community who attended several open houses.  One of the resulting recommendations of that process was to update Morgan County’s General Plan as well as to update and develop ordinances to encourage growth to occur as the people envisioned it.  
In 2009, the Planning Commission and the County Council put together a committee to work on updating the County’s Ordinances which consisted of three Planning Commissioners, three County Council members, and three citizens.  They met over the course of a year on a bi-weekly basis.  After proceeding about a year, it was determined that the process was too encumbered.  The Planning Commission took over the responsibility of reviewing and updating the County’s ordinances.  This is an ongoing process.
 It was also determined that it would be necessary to engage an outside consultant to help the County through the General Plan update process.  The County interviewed several consulting firms and determined that Logan Simpson Design was the best fit to help Morgan County.  Jim Carter and Nathan Crane went to work immediately to fulfill the task given them.  They held meetings with members of the County Council, Planning Commission, Morgan County Staff, Morgan City Council, and other stakeholders throughout the community.  They reviewed the work that was done previously with the Mountain Green DAT, Envision Morgan, and the past work done by Morgan County staff on creating a transportation master plan for Morgan County, also an ongoing process.  They conducted open houses in Mountain Green and Morgan City to try and reach the whole community.  Once a draft was done, they worked with Morgan County staff to present the information to the community and to the Planning Commission.   A public hearing was held at the Planning Commission and many of the public continued to give comment during the work sessions with Logan Simpson Design and the Planning Commission.   Jim Carter worked with the Planning Commission; and they worked long hours reviewing and revising the draft with staff.  They completed the process and turned their recommendations over to the Council, many of whom had been following the process closely throughout the year.  The Council held a public hearing on December 14, 2010.  They decided to make some slight changes in response to public comment.  The County Council then reviewed the document again on December 21, 2010 in their public meeting and adopted the new Morgan County General Plan.  The plan is available online at www.morgan-county.net for review.