SOUTH JORDAN, Utah (ABC4) — The first step toward a new managed community in South Jordan happened Tuesday night as the city council approved Rio Tinto Kennecott’s request to annex 2,200 acres into the city.
Rio Tinto’s intentions are to create another community similar to Daybreak, which the company originally developed 20 years ago. Tuesday, the council heard from Rio Tinto officials and held a public hearing on the annexation. There was no opposition to the annexation, either from the council or the public. Final approval is still pending from the lieutenant governor’s office and is expected this summer.
Rio Tinto only released a few new tidbits of information about the planned development Tuesday, noting that more details will likely be available in Fall 2023 as they prepare their Master Development Agreement (MDA). However, officials said their current plans would keep the same density — or lower — than Daybreak. As of Tuesday, the plan stands at an average of five units per acre.
As part of the annexation, Rio Tinto and South Jordan also entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) so that planning remains collaborative between the company and the city.
Regardless of the long-term development, Rio Tinto has pledged to set aside 25% of the 2,200 acres for “public and private open space, including active parks, wild areas, and trails.” Rio Tinto has also agreed to develop a major park space on the land in the next 10 years.
Public comments on the annexation were sparse, with questions mostly related to water, infrastructure, and the safety of the portions of land which had previously been used for mining.
As for water, the newly annexed land would fall under the jurisdiction of the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District. Rio Tinto representative Wayne Bradshaw said the district already has plans for the future expansion of the city. Bradshaw said it is possible that future residents of the community may even pay different water rates. JVWCD officials were not on hand to comment or confirm.
On the safety of the land, Rio Tinto representative Josh Brown said the 2,200 acres have already been under initial tests, which found that toxin levels were similar to or better than those in Daybreak before its development, and it would be the company’s responsibility to make sure the land is safe for residents before homes are built. Brown said when Daybreak was developed, the land was rehabilitated to “beyond EPA standards,” and he pledged the same for the new community. Rehabilitation issues, he said, would fall under Rio Tinto’s responsibility — not taxpayers’.
Bradshaw said the development would begin in the east and slowly spread west based on Rio Tinto’s needs and usage for the land. He said Rio Tinto would retain the land at the very western edge of the city “in perpetuity,” and he noted the western-most portion of the annexed land might not be fully developed for “40 or 50 years.”
Bradshaw said Rio Tinto’s desire to annex the property now was based on the need to make sure the city and other developers keep the future in mind.
“We may not anticipate immediate development, but we want to be part of the conversation today,” he told the council. Doing so, he said, could prevent other developers from creating cul-de-sacs or dead-end roads that hamper future development.
Bradshaw said the annexation puts “guardrails” on the development and allows the company and the city to work together to develop wisely.
“After thoughtful consideration for the future of the City of South Jordan, and with input from our residents, professional planning staff and community partners, our City Council and I are pleased to approve Rio Tinto Kennecott’s petition for annexation,” said South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey in a joint press release with Rio Tinto this morning. “As we prepare for growth, we remain firmly committed to smart planning, advanced infrastructure, efficient transportation corridors, water conservation, outdoor recreation, and economic development opportunities.”
A recording of the South Jordan City Council meeting can be heard on their website. The discussion starts roughly one hour into the meeting.
For more information on plans for the new community, visit Rio Tinto Kennecott’s FAQ page.