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7/30/2013 11:17:00 AM
Williams P&Z moves forward with draft of general plan
Commissioners dissatisfied with process, feel lack of support from city officials
P&Z Vice Chairman John Holst discusses the Williams Draft General Plan during the commissionís July 22 meeting. Marissa Freireich/WGCN
P&Z Vice Chairman John Holst discusses the Williams Draft General Plan during the commissionís July 22 meeting. Marissa Freireich/WGCN

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter


After some dissatisfaction with a lack of public comments and up to date maps, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted on July 22 to move forward with the general plan and send it to the City Council after making revisions.

About nine people attended the meeting, which was rescheduled from the June 20 meeting after only three people attended.

The commissioners noted the draft general plan is very similar to the 2003 general plan.

Within the growth areas element of the plan, general plan consultant Rick Counts recommended focusing on the Interstate 40 gateway area and the Main Street area, since the city has had success in those areas in the past.

Vice Chairman John Holst also said redevelopments in the Main Street area were key.

"We need to now focus not so much on the quantity of change but the quality of change, so that we do encourage better and higher forms of destination tourism," he said.

Holst also said he wanted to see more entry-level or medium level residential areas off of Garland Prairie Road and proposed adding an action step in the plan to address train noise.

Early in the meeting, Holst questioned the fact that several of the maps within the draft document were marked "will be revised," and should have been updated by that time.

Chairman Buck Williams agreed, saying evaluating the plan was difficult with the maps needing revision.

"We are supposed to submit an opinion based on this, which means that our opinion could be revised," Williams said.

Counts said he has had little input from the Coconino County Geographic Information Systems department and city staff in terms of the maps.

Commissioner Greg Brooks said he was unaware of the mapping problem, and Williams asked City Manager Brandon Buchanan if he knew about it.

"The bigger issue is what revisions have you guys provided for him to make?" Buchanan asked, adding that staff has provided some information. "Looking at it myself, you guys know better than I do or than he does what revisions can be made to these maps. Has that been provided to him?"

Holst said he expected city staff to provide that information to the consultant.

"We're not going to be pulling this out of our heads," he said. "There obviously are records on things that have changed and happened over the past 10 years."

Counts added that the final pages of the 2003 plan outlined how to keep the plan up to date.

"Every year you didn't have an annual report or every year you didn't have general plan amendments, technically you weren't following your own policy blueprint," he said.

Brooks called attention to the time constraints around completing the general plan.

"Whether or not we feel like the issue with the maps is a big issue or not, what we need to do is we need to discuss this plan as best we can and we need to come up with a recommendation," he said.

Other issues the commission discussed were unawareness or apathy regarding the plan.

Resident Patty Williams said she encouraged long-time involved residents to attend the general plan meetings.

"They respond, 'What difference does it make, the city's going to do what they want anyway,'" she said.

Another Williams resident, Dwan Utley, said when he asked at the city offices for a copy of the draft general plan, the people he spoke to did not know what he was talking about.

"We're talking here about community input and there's a total disconnect at the front counter to even give people stuff to input about," he said, adding that the staff was unaware of the meeting that night.

Holst said there is a disconnect between the city, the Planning and Zoning Commission and community.

"We're almost a non-entity here. We sort of rubber-stamp a few things as is required by law," he said. "The use of Planning and Zoning is not anywhere what it should be. That has to do with the way it's progressed in the City Council in last few years."

After the commission voted to move forward with the plan, Counts said he would incorporate the suggestions he received and work on the maps within the week. He said he hoped to send out the draft copies to county and state agencies for the required 60-day review period sometime around Aug. 1.

"During that 60 day period, it is common, it is expected, and it certainly will be done, that further refinements will be made, whether they are graphics or whether they are otherwise," Counts said.

After the review period, the Planning and Zoning Commission will likely put on a public hearing in October and the City Council will likely put on a public hearing in October or November.


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