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When City Council members and city employees sit down to plan West Jordan's future, they try to figure out what is best for nearly 50,000 residents - usually without any residents present.

Keeping up with the explosion of population in the Salt Lake Valley, the city's annual growth rate is approaching 18 percent. City officials are aggressively planning how to handle the growth, but though council members are elected representatives, it's tough sometimes to know what constituents want their city to become.For the first time in West Jordan history, the city is seeking written comment from residents to provide guidelines for the master strategic plan.

"The strategic plan is our road map of what we want for the city both in the short term and the long term. The plan will have a major impact on every citizens in West Jordan," says Penny Atkinson, assistant city manager.

"Up to now, we have only received input from the City Council and senior West Jordan staff. It's only been our ideas that have determined the future of our community. We want to know what the citizens want."

For instance, the council is deciding what the minimum required lot size should be for new homes. Several of West Jordan's neighboring communities have recently opted to require larger lots sizes of one-third acre to assure an upgraded housing market.

"We want to increase the minimum required lot size, but we want to make sure that we have enough diversity in housing stock that will allow new families to purchase their first home in West Jordan. We want young families to move to West Jordan and still be able to afford to remain in West Jordan as their families get bigger," said Atkinson.

Do residents think West Jordan is becoming too urbanized or is it too rural? Are they satisfied with public safety? Are existing neighborhoods being maintained to provide attractive housing? Should more commercial growth be encouraged?

In the next few years, city officials will be making difficult decisions that will impact the city for decades to come, said Atkinson.

City officials are requesting that residents write City Hall to answer the following questions:

- What are the city's strengths?

- What are the city's weaknesses?

- What accomplishments would you like to see the city achieve during the next five years?

- List what you see as the three biggest issues facing the city right now.

Instead of holding a series of public hearings, the City Council felt it would be more beneficial to have residents' input in writing. Surveys will be compiled into a document used by the planning com-mit-tees in developing the strategic plan.

Letters should be addressed to: The Strategic Plan Survey, 8000 S. Redwood Road, West Jordan, UT 84088. Deadline is Aug. 19.

"Suggestions by the citizens will be taken very seriously," said Atkinson.