Moratorium v. Developer guided and subsidized planning in Merced County for foreseeable future
PL49-GP Update Polices
May 2, 2006
Merced County Board of Supervisors’ Agenda Item # 55
(Transcribed from Board Agenda for May 2, 2006 – BH, April 29, 2006)
TO: BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
THROUGH: DEMITRIOS O. TATUM, COUNTY EXECUTIVE OFFICER
FROM: ROBERT A. LEWIS, DEVELOPMENT SERVICES DIRECTOR
SUBJECT: General Plan Amendment Policy and Procedures during the General Plan Update
SUMMARY: On February 14, 2006, the Planning and Community Development Department made a presentation to the Board of supervisors, at the request of the General Plan Review Steering Committee, to seek direction for handling developer initiated Guidance packages for major project submittals during the General Plan Update process.
On April 11, 2006, Staff presented four modified options with one alternative to Option 3 for the Board to consider. During discussion, an additional alternative to Option 3 was presented as well. These modified options are:
1. General Plan Amendment Policy Option 1 (Allow All).
Allow any property owner to submit a General Plan amendment whether or not it involves a new or updated Community Plan. Applicants would proceed at own risk and indemnify the County. For Option 1, Staff recommends that applicants pay all staff impact costs for the effort required to process their application or provide contract services for in-house staff sufficient to complete the project.
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STAFFING IMPACT: The level of staff support required for property owner sponsored Community Plan efforts is minimal if the applicants pay all staff impact costs and positions are filled as required to process their application or provide contract services for in-house staff sufficient to complete the project.
FISCAL IMPACT: No fiscal impact from actions the Board takes regarding property owner sponsored Community Plan projects. The applicant is required to provide for full County costs.
CONTRACT/RESOLUTION/ABSTRACT SUBMITTED: No.
REQUEST REVIEWED BY: County Counsel __________________
ADMINISTRATION RECOMMENDATION/COMMENT: ______________________
REQUEST/RECOMMENDATION/ACTION NEEDED: Staff recommends Option 1, allowing any property owner to submit a General Plan Amendment whether or not it involves a new or updated Community Plan. Applicants shall proceed at own risk and indemnify the County. Applicants shall pay all staff impact costs for the effort required to process applications or provide contract services for in-house staff sufficient to complete the project.
2. General Plan Amendment Policy Option 2 (limit by Date).
Consider holding in abeyance as of May 2, 2006 any new General Plan Amendment application that requires preparation or revision to a Community Plan (generally those applications which require approval of a Guidance Package for processing). For Option 2, Staff recommends that applicants pay all staff impact costs as stated in Option 1. this does NOT include guidance packages previously adopted by the Board or those prospective projects in the works as of May 2, 2006.
3A. General Plan Amendment Policy Option 3A (Agricultural Land).
Consider processing applications for Community Plans and Community Plan updates only where the area is located on non-productive farmland (soil quality is rated lower than Prime, Farmlands of Statewide Importance and Unique Farmland as identified on the State Important Farmlands Map of the Department of Conservation). For Option 3A, Staff recommends that applicants pay all staff impact costs as stated in Option 1.
3B. General Plan Amendment Policy Option 3B (Agricultural Land).
During the time period prior to the completion and final adoption of the updated County General Plan and effective at the signing of a resolution, applications intended as preliminary steps to change the general plan designation from agricultural to non-agricultural or urban uses shall NOT be accepted unless:
· It can be demonstrated that the application will not result in a “leap-frog” development pattern.
· Will not result in a significant change to surrounding existing land uses.
· Will utilize, if granted the existing services of a full service municipal water and sewer treatment facility, and as such could be considered an infill project, causing minimal environmental impacts.
3C. General Plan Amendment Policy Option 3C (Presented 4/11/06 during Board discussion)
Applications previously accepted for processing shall continue and are eligible for amendment as needed or otherwise shall proceed unimpeded during the general plan update process; and those:
· Applications which provide infill opportunity on existing sewer and water shall be accepted, and,
· Applications which provide a timely, clear economic benefit to the county which could otherwise be lost during the ensuing time necessary for the general plan update shall be accepted for consideration.
4. General Plan Amendment Policy Option 4 (Moratorium)
Consider holding in abeyance any and all General Plan Amendment applications by adopting a resolution to hold applications until the General Plan Update is completed and approved.
After Staff’s presentation, the Board Chair opened the discussion to the public and received numerous comments and suggestions. These comments can be grouped into three main recommendations: 1) impose a moratorium on General Plan Amendment applications during the General Plan Update; 2) do not impose a moratorium on General Plan Amendments and allow all applications to be processed; and 3) those who asked the County to take all interests into account during the General Plan update and support sound development and agricultural resource protection.
After a lengthy discussion by the Board, Supervisor O’Banion made a motion to support Option No. 1, Seconded by Supervisor Nelson. Due to the absence of Supervisor Crookham, the Board decided to continue the discussion and the Second to the motion was rescinded. The Board acknowledged that public comment would again be accepted and continued the item to May 2, 2006.
CVSEN NOTES: The April 11 Board Agenda Item #53 shows that neither Policy Options 3B or 3C were written down prior to the meeting. Supervisor Kelsey orally presented Option 3B at that meeting. Option 3C is yet another, fresh creation of the General Plan Review Steering Committee at some point after April 11.
It is apparent, at least at this stage of General Plan Amendment Policy and Procedures during the General Plan Update, that the Planning Department has forgotten everything about planning except the costs to its office of developer driven projects, and that the County has made sure it will be financially recompensed for its rubber stamping and indemnified against any lawsuits brought against it by the public for violations of environmental law, public process or land-use authority.