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6/25/2013 11:06:00 AM
Little interest in Williams general plan
P&Z Commission adjourns last week's meeting when just two Williams residents attend
Rick Counts of Counts Planning outlines the general plan process at the June 20 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. Marissa Freireich/WGCN
Rick Counts of Counts Planning outlines the general plan process at the June 20 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. Marissa Freireich/WGCN

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter


Because of a low turnout at the general plan meeting Thursday, the Williams Planning and Zoning Commission voted to adjourn the meeting and reschedule for July 22.

Three people attended the meeting, one of whom was not a Williams resident. Of the seven commissioners, Harry Schmitz and Gabe Ayala were absent.

Cities must update their general plans every 10 years. At the first general plan workshop on April 18, about 12 people attended. Rick Counts, the city of Williams general plan consultant, said he followed up with those people through phone calls and emails to let them know about the second meeting.

The postponement of the meeting delays the schedule to complete the general plan. State statutes require Counts to give copies of the draft general plan to outside organizations, such as Coconino County, the Northern Arizona Council of Governments, and neighboring cities.

Counts said he had hoped to distribute the document to these agencies in mid July to start the required 60-day review period for the plan. Then, he hoped the Planning and Zoning Commission could vote to adopt the plan in September and send it to the City Council for a vote in October.

Commissioner Greg Brooks first expressed concern with the lack of public participation about ten minutes into the meeting.

"We're going to have a lot of things that in the next ten years are going to be dependent on us looking at this document," Brooks said. "This is too important of an issue to just rely on two ladies who are members of the community."

Brooks made a motion to adjourn the meeting and reschedule after doing more outreach to the public. No one seconded the motion at that time, so it died.

One audience member asked where the commission had publicized the meeting. The woman suggested that information about the general plan meetings be sent out in Chamber blast emails.

Chairman Buck Williams said the commission posted the agenda at the city offices and on the city's website. He said the Planning and Zoning Commission, as well as the City Council, generally have poor turnout at meetings.

Brooks agreed.

"My concern is after the fact we're going to have everybody and his brother coming up and saying, 'what's going on?'" Brooks said. "I just do not feel that the population is being represented here."

City Clerk Susan Kerley reminded the commission that the city's contract with Counts calls for a fixed number of visits to Williams, and that the council must approve the general plan by the end of the year.

Counts said his contract is set to expire Oct. 31.

"I'm here tonight. You can send me home and ask me to come back another time when there are more people, or the ones that are here can work with me," he said. "I don't think...putting things off a month is worth as much as trying to do something tonight and then meeting again at the next possible date."

Counts said the draft plan is about 50-60 percent complete, and the update is based on the plan he completed for the city in 2003. He hopes people will read the draft in several sittings and come up with questions or comments for him about the plan.

Taking into account dates that Counts will be out of town, Council meetings, and allowing enough time for people to review the draft, the commission voted to meet next on July 22.

"The failure of the process has thrown me into a cocked hat, as they say," Counts said.

"On one hand I'm deeply disappointed that I didn't get a lot of things to go back and work on. On another hand, I'm very enthused by the fact that we're getting serious and we're going to make this thing better."

The first draft of the Williams General Plan update is available on the homepage of the city's website at www.williamsaz.gov. The plan includes seven elements: land use, circulation, water resources, costs of development, growth areas, open space and environmental planning.

Counts welcomes comments and suggestions about the draft plan at rick.countsplanning@cox.net, (602) 955-7097 or (602) 618-1891. Contact information for commissioners is available from the city at (928) 635-4451.


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