Who can implement this: State, county, and city officials
Utah County’s crucial agricultural lands are being threatened by constantly-expanding urban growth. To help preserve agricultural land and greenspace, local lawmakers should encourage growth in places that are better suited for development.
Utah County already limits the expansion of urban areas by prohibiting large-scale development in unincorporated areas. The lakes and mountains of the Wasatch Front also serve as natural boundaries to growth in the Salt Lake City and Provo–Orem metropolitan regions. However, population growth and the subsequent need for development is placing pressure on many of Utah County’s natural resources and agricultural lands. Additional protections of these lands may be necessary to mitigate the impacts associated with population growth.
Agricultural buffers provide extra space for typical farming practices to continue even when development occurs near farm operations. Open space buffers are intended to shield farms from nuisance complaints of residents and protect the public’s health and safety from noise, dust, odor, pesticide use, and the normal activities that are part of farming and ranching.
When adopted through the land use review process, buffers are a legally required separation between residences, schools, and other land uses that may potentially be incompatible with nearby agricultural practices. Agricultural buffers can help farms and residences coexist. Having legally mandated buffers to insulate farms reduces complaints and allows farms to operate more freely without having to worry about the impacts of day-to-day business on neighbors.
- Individual cities must decide where they want most of their urban development to occur and on what densities of development best meet the needs of their communities. Agricultural buffers would likely be implemented in a general land use plan or through zoning laws in different jurisdictions across Utah County.
- City councils and planners should review and revise annexation laws and other regulations that influence where future urban development may occur to ensure that they adhere to community needs and desired outcomes for future growth.
- The Utah County Commission should encourage cities to create buffers between their residential/commercial areas and agriculture areas to help dissuade future development and prevent nuisance complaints.
The Cache Valley South Corridor Development Plan aims to guide the development of private and public land across the corridor that connects the Cache Valley cities of Wellsville, Nibley, and Logan. The development plan incorporates open space buffers to preserve agricultural land and to maintain the rural feel of the region. The plan’s buffers are in line with the desires of the community and will help direct the inevitable development coming to the region in a way that preserves Cache Valley’s strong agricultural heritage.