July 20, 2009: 1 & 20 Amendment

Major General Plan Amendments, by state law, can only be heard one day per year. Prior to July, 2009: (i) that day was in November, a month when citizens are generally in town and thus could participate in the process, and (ii) Major General Plan Amendments involved parcels of “over one acre.” This “over one acre” safeguard assured that any significant land use change would be subjected to the one-day per year meeting law and a super-majority vote of the Council (a “yes” vote by six members or the entire Council). If you travel during our hottest months, as many residents do, there was peace of mind knowing a rezoning could not take place in your absence that directly involved your neighborhood. These restrictions regulated—not eliminated—commercial development.

In 2009, the Council changed the Major General Plan Amendment process: (i) the one-day a year hearing was changed from November to July, a month when so many of our residents are out of town; and (ii) parcels 20-acres and less will now be considered for up-zonings (more intense land use) at any Council meeting held throughout the course of the year.

Rather than regulate, these changes facilitate the development process recommended in the White Paper. (White Paper p. 10). More importantly, meeting in July instead of November appears to have no other benefit than significantly limiting citizen participation in the rezoning process.