GENERAL PLAN BASICS
WHAT IS A GENERAL PLAN AND WHY IS IT BEING UPDATED?
The General Plan is the public document that guides future land use decisions. Zoning, re-zoning and new developments must be consistent with, and conform to, the City’s adopted General Plan. The General Plan must be re-adopted or amended at least once every ten years. The Growing Smarter/Growing Smarter Plus legislation, adopted in 1998 and amended in 2000, created a change in the depth of comprehensive planning to be done at the local level. Five additional mandatory plan elements were added for municipalities of less than 50,000 population, for a total of seven mandatory elements. An additional 10 elements or enhanced sub-elements are required for larger municipalities and made optional for those populations of under 50,000.
The Growing Smarter legislation requires that a Public Participation Plan be created and adopted by the City Council. This is to provide effective, early and continuous public participation in the up-date process. This plan must set procedures for the broad dissemination of plan elements, proposals and alternatives. It must provide the opportunity for written comments. It must provide for a number of Public Hearings with effective prior notice. It must provide for open discussions, communications programs such as TV, Radio and Newspaper coverage, and information services such as Web pages, Newsletters and comment forms. Most importantly, it must provide for serious consideration of public comments. As an important adjunct to the Public Participation Plan, close cooperation and solicitation of comment from other agencies and organizations is required. The statutes provide for a 60-day review period for agency comment prior to adoption of the Plan update by City Council.