Zoners get earful over plan [Corrected: Dates]

Public leery of county motives on land use rules

KINGMAN - County Planning and Zoning staff got an earful during a public workshop on the review of the county's General Plan Thursday night in Kingman.

Questions from some of the 30 residents who attended the meeting started before Russ Hanson from TransTech Consulting Services and Mohave County Development Services Director Nick Hont could explain how the workshop was set up and what the review of the plan entailed. TransTech and ESMpr were hired by the county to facilitate the workshops and collect the comments.

"Is this just an attempt to pacify us?" asked resident Bobby Martin.

Hanson assured him that all of the comments made that night would be collected into a report and turned over to the County Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

He couldn't guarantee that Martin would get what he asked for in the plan, but his comments would be heard, he said.

Hont told the crowd that the county is studying proposed changes to six areas of the General Plan - natural resources, land use, housing, economic development, public infrastructure and public facilities - that would bring the plan into compliance with current state statutes and meet the changes in growth and the economy that had happened in recent years, he said.

The county also wanted input from the community as to how to improve some of the goals and policies in the plan, Hont said. All of the information about the changes to the plan, meeting minutes, public comments and more would be on the county's Web site at www.co.mohave.az.us/2010generalplanreview, he said. Anyone who did not have access to the Internet could come into the Development Services Building, on Route 66 in Kingman, for a physical copy of the information, Hont said.

The timeline on the review project is very short because the changes are considered a major amendments to the General Plan, and the Board must approve all major amendment within one year, Hont said. The county has to collect public comments, make changes, send a draft of the changes to neighboring counties and to the state for review, make additional changes, and then bring the revised plan before the P&Z Commission and the Board before the end of the year.

The county was not going to rewrite the General Plan or change any current land use designations in the plan, Hont said.

Resident Mark Shaver asked why a member of the general public had not been appointed to the General Plan Advisory Committee.

The advisory committee made suggestions as to which portions of the plan needed to change, Hont said. County Manager Ron Walker appointed the members of the committee.

Resident Fred Williams asked why the county had made so many changes from "shall" to "may" in the plan.

Hont explained that in some cases the county didn't have the funds or the manpower to complete some of the requirements in the plan.

For example, the current plan states that the county "shall" create a water budget for each aquifer in the county, he said. The county, the U.S. Geological Survey and Arizona Department of Water Quality don't have the funds to complete a water study of the four major aquifers in the county. Without the study, the county can't make a water budget, Hont said.

Resident Patti Lewis asked why the county was changing a policy that requires all power plants built in the county to have dry-cooling technology if an aquifer is in depletion or subsidence.

The county was actually broadening the policy to include any new commercial activity, Hont said. It was also changing the definition of depletion to what is currently accepted by the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

"The county doesn't regulate water use. That's a state issue. The county regulates land use," he said.

What was the use, Lewis asked, of setting up new rules and policies for the county to follow if it was just going to break them again?

Another resident asked if all of the current area plans would remain in effect.

Hont assured the crowd that all current area plans would remain in effect. He encouraged residents to continue to check the county Web site, call the Development Services Department and e-mail their comments into the county about the General Plan.

Hont expects that a draft of the changes will be available to the state and surrounding counties in June. The state will have 60 days to review the draft and return it to the county, he said. He hopes to have it before the P&Z Commission in September or October and before the Board by November or December.

The meeting was the second of four public workshops the county has set up to gather public input on changes to the General Plan. The first workshop was in Lake Havasu City on March 17. The next two workshops are Tuesday in the Arizona Strip/Beaver Dam area and Wednesday at Mohave Community College in Bullhead City.