Specific plan process discussed; Town receives input on how to best involve public | SierraSun.com
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Specific plan process discussed; Town receives input on how to best involve public

JOHN A. BAYLESS

Many residents and concerned parties turned out Tuesday for a workshop concerning possible public involvement in the specific plan process for planned communities, and Truckee Town Council and the Planning Commission heard input from all sides of the issue.

“I thought it was a productive meeting,” Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook said. “We will try to assimilate the input and bring back to the council some of the points raised. One of the more interesting sets of points raised related more to how we run public hearings than to the specific plan process.”

Lashbrook said a number of people at the meeting were concerned with the three-minute rule, and felt that the process for public comment should be changed.

“The feeling is that we should let people talk more and be a little less formal,” he said. In the workshop the three minute rule was not enforced, and people were allowed to address the officials multiple times.

Lashbrook’s suggested a town driven process for involving the public in the planned community specific plan hearings. He said two council members and two planning commission members could participate in workshops with the community to hear comment on a condensed version of the developer’s plan.

‘We’re looking for a set of information digestible by the general public,” Lashbrook said. “It should include a map, design theme, elevation information, and information about the proposed timing of development.” He said public input received would be considered in the context of the town’s general plan.

“What we got was an indication that there is a desire for additional public process,” Town Manager Steve Wright said. “As staff, we will try to craft what we heard into a public process.”

Attorney Jim Porter of Truckee, who represents Boca Sierra Estates, said changes should be made in the way public comment is heard, especially changes to the three-minute rule, which limits comments.

“Whatever land use processing procedure you adopt, it must give every citizen an opportunity to be fully heard,” Porter said. “I thought there was an overwhelming consensus the public should be involved early in the land use process.”

Mountain Area Preservation Foundation President Stefanie Olivieri said she was not satisfied with the format or the outcome of the meeting.

“We weren’t too happy with the way it went,” Olivieri said. She said the best way to provide for widespread citizen involvement in the process is to have a strong plan for citizen involvement.

“A citizen involvement program has to be carefully designed and managed,” Olivieri said. “The public has to believe there will be meaningful results from their participation.”

Olivieri said MAPF’s suggestion is that the town should bring in a consultant who has set up citizen involvement programs before.

“There are communities with positive and effective citizen involvement programs,” Olivieri said. “Let’s get someone to help us this. This is going to be a template for all of our future public workshops. The question is not ‘Should the public be involved,’ but ‘How do you involve the public?'”

She said Park City has developed an effective system of citizen involvement, and recommended that the council consider bringing in Park City’s consultant, Miles Rademan.

Hopkins Family representative Brian Mullins said developers of Boca Sierra Estates are looking forward to telling the community about their project on PC-2, and that the meeting was beneficial.

“It was a very appropriate meeting,” Mullins said. “Hopkins welcomes input from the community. It’s important to know what the community thinks about us and especially what our neighbors think. I proposed to the town council three weeks ago to have a series of workshops to give the community a chance to understand the contents of our planning in advance of delivering our specific plan.”

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