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A thumbs up for Kennecott

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The Kennecott Utah Copper Corp., an institution in the state since it began its mining operations in 1906, apparently will make being a positive force for growth part of its legacy.

Managing growth is critical to Utah's future, particularly along the Wasatch Front where the population is projected to triple in the next 50 years, going from 1.6 million to 5 million. Plans that are visionary, taking into account the need for a diversity of housing coupled with sufficient open space, need to be encouraged.

While the details are sparse regarding Kennecott's proposal, what is known is encouraging. Kennecott officials told South Jordan leaders that Kennecott plans to create a 4,500-acre community that may be home to as many as 35,000 people. The development, which includes light rail, 1,800 acres of open space and a pedestrian-friendly community, would bring industry and commercial ventures to create 10,000 to 20,000 new jobs.

The proposed site, on the extreme western side of South Jordan, stretches from 10200 South to 11800 South and from 4000 West, a little west of the Bangerter Highway, to U-111.

A Kennecott spokesman said open space is a key component of the project, including developed park land, green space buffers next to transportation corridors and a trails network.

The proposal, called the Sun Rise development project, will be designed in such a way that if they choose, people could live there for a lifetime. That's because housing would accommodate the needs of newly marrieds, families and those who are retired.

The entire development is expected to take 20 to 50 years to complete.

All communities need to address growth. While what best suits Salt Lake City may not be what is best for other locales, there are growth principles regarding housing, business development and transportation that are applicable to all.

Those communities that, for example, snub high-density development in favor of "trophy homes" are not only ignoring the need for diversity of housing but put themselves in jeopardy of court action. That was the case in February when 3rd District Judge Matthew Durrant rejected Bluffdale's affordable-housing plan, deeming the plan "illegal," noting that city officials knew the plan "would not come close to meeting the estimated immediate need" for state-mandated affordable housing.

Kennecott, with its resources and rich heritage, has a chance to set the proper tone for growth in the 21st century in Utah. It will be interesting to see how it meets that challenge.