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Residents provide input on Morgan City’s proposed general plan

Mar 14, 2024 12:20PM ● By Linda Petersen

For the first time in more than 25 years, Morgan City will soon have a new general plan. The final version of the plan was expected to be presented to and approved by the city council at their March 12 meeting. 

A general plan is essentially a broad-stroke advisory document that helps city officials in planning for the future. What happens in specific areas is determined by land sales and zoning that can be changed by city officials if they determine there is a need to do so, City Planner Jake Young told the city council Feb. 27. 

“In the past, we have amended the general plan to accommodate growth but a lot of that was because our general plan was last updated in 1999,” City Manager Ty Bailey said at the same meeting. “My hope is when we take people through our process that since we just recently updated the general plan that we're pretty sure we're calling for what the community expects … so maybe it’s less likely that we have to amend the general plan right after we adopt it.” 

Reaction to the proposed plan was mixed among the close to 30 residents who attended a Feb. 20 Morgan Planning Commission open house and public hearing. While most did not seem opposed to the overall plan, several expressed concern about various aspects of it.

In the new plan low density is defined as two to three units per acre; some wanted to see that changed back to a lower density.

“My husband and I our families have lived here for generations and that to me is high-density housing,” Brienne Johnson said. “Our way of life has changed drastically and it's not somewhere I want to continue to raise my kids if it's going to grow at the rate that it is because they're growing up completely different than I did.”

One resident said that growth in Morgan is inevitable but that prudent planning can mitigate some of the impacts.

“Growth studies show with a growing population, with increasing invasion by immigrants from the south border looking for desirable places to live growth is inevitable,” said Howard Brinkerhoff who moved to Morgan three years ago. “Whether it all happens in our lifetime or not, it will happen, and if you plan for it, then the deleterious effects that concern you and me they can be managed and turned to your most positive benefit.”

Others such as local farmer Ethan Clark wanted to make sure agriculture was addressed and that food security was protected in the plan. 

“My family has had a farm here in Morgan for like 150 years, so I think it's good that we need to remember agriculture in this planning,” he said. “We need to remember where our food came from because it wasn't that long ago that you'd walk into the grocery store and the shelves were empty. In general, Utah is really suffering right now from developmental pressures.”

Others were concerned about the impact development has had on traffic and wanted to see that addressed in the general plan. 

“Last year or the year before we had a fire down the end of the street and nobody could get in or out down there,” Wayne Fry said. “You have to do something to slow down the growth, so people have an idea. Going past our place you can tell what time of day it is just by the traffic… it's crazy. There needs to be an issue made of how you get in and out.”

Young acknowledged that transportation is a significant issue in Morgan. City officials are aware of that and are working with UDOT on plans to mitigate the traffic problems, he said.

One concern many Morgan residents have is that their children will never be able to afford to buy a home or even to live in the community where they grew up, Planning Commissioner Wes Woods said.

“When it comes down to dollar and cents these kids are demoralized because they're looking at it and go, ‘I'll never be able to live out here even if Mom and Dad gives me a place to live and a piece of ground,’” he said. “So, this is really a tough thing for all of us to tackle. I think doing the general plan and all the time and effort put in there is the first best step for doing this and making it so that we have some control over this as these developers come in … We can say, ‘This is what we want,’ but without that plan, it was just like well we're selling 40 acres over here and putting some houses on it and you hope that the roads can handle it but a lot of this comes down to dollar and cents for young people.” λ

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