Plan sees mini-city west of SLC airport

It's the moonscape-looking marshland you see peering from plane rides in or out of Salt Lake City. There are no trees, few roads and, other than migratory birds, few signs of life.

All that could change forever if the City Council approves the long-planned Northwest Quadrant Master Plan, a blueprint for a "green" mini-city of at least 70,000 residents to cover the brownfields between the international airport and the Oquirrhs near the city's northwest tip.

Growing Utah's capital city by more than a third, the new-urban scenery could vault Salt Lake City's influence, but gobble its last patch of open space. And it's certain to transform budgets, business and, perhaps, city politics.

The plan imagines 25 schools, a transit spine, a regional park and a walkable village center surrounded by neighborhoods sculpted with the latest sustainability standards. A Daybreak on steroids, eight miles west of downtown.

Proponents call it a responsible way to harness the inevitable growth, which could balloon to 300,000 residents. And Mayor Ralph Becker, himself an environmental planner, says elements that protect the delicate ecosystem he calls an "unparalleled international resource" are "as good as any I've ever seen."

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