Tuesday, January 24, 2006

More on SB170

Lots of comments rolling in on SB170. Some of the more outragous provisions:

Eliminates the ability of a county or municipality to enact stricter requirements for any section of the land use statute. In other words, what's in the code is it -- nothing more, nothing less.

Requires local governments to designate a streamlined process for routine land use matters. Currently this is an option, not a requirement.

Removes aesthetics from the list of considerations that may be included in preparation of the general plan, as well as issues related to congestion, and to sprawl.

Eliminates the provision that a general plan may consider regulation of the use of land on hillsides.

Limits legislative acts to only three: enacting the general plan; enacting a zoning map for the entire jurisdiction; and a comprehensive rezone affecting at least 25% of the land area of the jurisdiction. All other land use decisions would become administrative acts.

Provides that when zoning issues are considered, the legislative body must consider the request of the landowners and adopt changes that conform to the landowner's request as closely as practicable.

Limits what applications for preliminary subdivision plat approval must include -- the bill gets specific about the items to be submitted and reviewed.

Prohibits denail of an application on technical or scientific grounds if the applicant provides expert testimony to support approval and there is no equivalent expert testimony to support disapproval.

The list goes on and on. Thanks to Craig Call, state private property ombudsman, for his very thorough listing of all the effects of the bill.

The bill, if passed, would pretty much make Pottersvilles (or Mansellvilles, if you please) out of most communities in the state, I think.

Coming up, I'll run down some of the comments I've received on this bill.

3 Comments:

At 8:30 AM, Blogger James said...

Well this certainly is juicy, isn't it? I don't even know where to start. I guess I'll just respond to some of these items.

"Requires local governments to designate a streamlined process for routine land use matters. Currently this is an option, not a requirement."

--Heaven forbid we actually require cities and community development to stop hiding behind their beuracratic protocols and put forth a stronger effort. A lack of accountability in this area could stand to be remedied. Many government planners don't need this, but many do.

"Eliminates the provision that a general plan may consider regulation of the use of land on hillsides."

- Now this is idiotic. Whoever came up with this obviously wasn't paying attention to Cedar Hills earlier this year. Gravity wins, people!! If I were king, I would regulate this more strictly than it already is.

"Limits what applications for preliminary subdivision plat approval must include -- the bill gets specific about the items to be submitted and reviewed."

- This is a good idea. Very few cities are the same in this regard, which makes meeting their requirements more confusing than it needs to be. If the requirements for preliminary plat submittal were uniform statewide, it would eliminate a lot of redlining and frustration for all involved. This is, of course, assuming the said "list" that is in the bill (I havnen't seen it) is adequate and reasonable.

"Prohibits denail of an application on technical or scientific grounds if the applicant provides expert testimony to support approval and there is no equivalent expert testimony to support disapproval."

Interesting. I guess it would make it so cities couldn't use "junk science" in rejecting an application. By the same token, all a developer would have to do is buy off some so called "expert" to provide their "junk" opinion, too. Good idea, poor solution.

----

Of course, the big daddy in all this is about the zoning changes. Frankly, I think we planners tend to cling to zoning and codes. Rather than having a knee-jerk reaction about this, I think this is a good time for us to really consider how critical separation of uses really is (in many cases, anyway).

That said, it would be important that if, say, zoning went out the door in terms of regulating land uses, that appropriate controls are in place to ensure harmony in design and that undesireable negative environmental or traffic impacts are addressed. What I see here is basically throwing it all out the window, which is not a good idea.

I think there's a lot of discussion that needs to be had here...

 
At 8:31 AM, Blogger ARCritic said...

Well, at least it will make zoning decisions non-referrable.

I guess sometimes the cure can be worse than the disease.

 
At 8:35 AM, Blogger James said...

Just looking through this some more...

(b) provide to each applicant a copy of each staff report and written internal communication regarding the applicant or the pending application at least three business days before the public hearing or public meeting

- Now this is a good idea. There is nothing worse than having some planner write up a staff report and then only give the applicant 20 minutes to try to figure out how to deal with it before they have to get up and present their item. This would eliminate the problem of having misinformation(or downright BS) in the report.

 

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