A new process that would give an early thumbs up or thumbs down to development projects was given a preliminary green light by the Board of Supervisors at its meeting on Thursday.
According to the staff report prepared for the board, the proposed process would, “provide a means to bring to an early conclusion those amendment applications that are inconsistent with the major goals and policies of the General Plan or which are premature given the extent of current development activity.”
The proposed new process would require any privately initiated General Plan amendment that would change the land use designation and thereby increase allowable residential densities would require a hearing before the board.
Limited in scope and requiring less investment on the part of the developer, the hearing would focus on whether the proposed change to the General Plan was “worthy of further analysis.”
The policy would apply to both specific plans and specific plan amendments applications submitted after the effective date of the policy as well as applications submitted prior to, but not approved, as of the effective date of the policy.
Staff said such a process would also allow for earlier public awareness and involvement in the process.
Currently there are 13 pending General Plan Amendment and Specific Plan applications with the county, some of which might be affected by the proposed policy if ultimately adopted by the board. The projects vary from a 1.4 acre project in Latrobe to the 2,341 acre Marble Valley project in Cameron Park/El Dorado Hills.
Under the proposed policy, applicants requesting a General Plan amendment would be required to submit to the Community Development Agency a description of the General Plan Amendment, vicinity and location maps, site plans showing existing and proposed general plan land use designations, and other exhibits as appropriate.
After submission of this information, the application for a General Plan Amendment would be referred to the board for a hearing to evaluate if it complied with certain criteria including: that it was consistent with the principal goals and objectives of the general plan; that it met one or more of a series of goals and objectives such as increasing employment in the county or added to retention of sales tax revenue, and that public infrastructure, facilities and services were available to service the proposed development. The policy would exempt projects below a certain size or acreage.
Staff emphasized that the process would not be a review or approval of a project, only an authorization to bring forward an application, and would be mandatory for all large projects requiring a General Plan amendment. Currently such a review is voluntary.
The proposed board review would be exempt from CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) and would expire in 2016 when the county did its next update to the General Plan.
After discussion and testimony from the public, the board voted to direct staff to come back with a process and policy for them to approve within 120 days or less.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.