Study: Development on land near mine will change Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Once just a vast buffer around a copper mine, thousands of acres owned by Kennecott Land will fuel tremendous growth on the west side of Salt Lake County if developed into homes, retail stores and office space, a study says.

Projecting to the year 2060, University of Utah analysts said Kennecott's West Bench will have 200,000 residential units, accounting for a quarter of all occupied housing in Salt Lake County.

More than 20 percent of the county's office space will be there, and 11.1 percent of all retail space, the study says.

Kennecott Land owns 93,000 acres along the Oquirrh Mountains and foothills, including 80,000 in Salt Lake County. About half of the acreage in the county will be developed over decades.

The "West Bench will be a significant but not a dominating force in residential and commercial development over the next 50 years," says the Utah Economic and Business Review, published by the university's Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Kennecott Land hired the bureau to measure the economic impact, director James Wood said Monday.

Kennecott's Bingham Canyon mine is the world's largest open pit copper mine, about 28 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.

Development of land around the mine "wasn't something they planned or foresaw 100 years ago," Wood said.

"Salt Lake County will have more people than planners anticipated just 10 years ago," he said.

Development could be a gold mine for local governments: Between 2010 and 2060, an estimated $12 billion in taxes and fees will be collected, the study says.

Kennecott Land has talked about creating a ski resort on the West Bench, with elevation reaching 9,350 feet.

Kyle Bennett of Kennecott did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment on the study.

In South Jordan, Kennecott already is developing Daybreak, thousands of homes in "walkable" communities.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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