Lack of general plan can lead to building moratorium

Debra Moore

  The longer Plumas County goes without a general plan, the more its planning director, Randy Wilson, worries.

  Failure to have an updated general plan leaves the county vulnerable to lawsuits.

  A worse case scenario would result in a countywide building moratorium.

  No building permits can be issued,” Wilson said.

  During the planning commission’s March 21 meeting, Wilson talked about what’s next in the process.

  The county’s consultant is now responding to every comment submitted by the public.

  Twenty-nine individuals and entities commented on the general plan, with responses ranging from a single page to a virtual book.

  For example, rancher Heather Kingdon submitted a one-page comment, while Stevee Duber, representing the High Sierra Rural Alliance, submitted a 24-page letter, plus 228 pages of attachments.

  Commissioner Larry Williams asked Wilson when the consultant would be done responding to the comments.

  “I’m putting almost daily pressure on them,” Wilson said.

  And comments are still being made. “Under CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act) the comment period is closed,” Wilson said. “But in the political process, comments are still being made.”

  “Comments on the general plan can be made until it’s adopted,” associate planner Becky Herrin said.

  Once the response process is completed the planning commission must conduct public hearings on both the environmental impact report (EIR) and the general plan.

  “The EIR and general plan are two separate decisions,” Herrin said.

  The planning commission holds the first public hearings and then makes a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.

  The commissioners discussed briefly whether there would be one central public hearing or if a hearing would be conducted in each community, as well as how much time would be allotted.

  Then it would be up to the supervisors to set their own public hearings.

General Plan 101

  To help the public prepare for the upcoming hearings, Planning Director Randy Wilson synthesized the general plan information now contained in several thick binders into one 58-page packet.

  The document is available for the public and can be picked up at the planning department at 555 Main St. in Quincy or accessed online at; follow the links to general plan background materials in the planning department.

  “This is intended to be as educational as possible,” Wilson said. “This process started long ago with lots of meetings and public input. New people enter and don’t understand what went on before.”

  Quincy resident Tracy Ball encouraged Wilson to send a succinct letter to county residents to alert them of the consequences of not having a general plan. While that information is contained in the 58-page presentation, he suggested that it be simplified in a single page.

  In addition to being an educational tool, Wilson planned to use the document to keep the state up-to-date on the county’s efforts. Plumas County received a three-year extension from the state to complete its general plan, but that reprieve concluded April 24, 2012.

  “We no longer have the extension, but I will continue to file a report with the state,” Wilson said.

  Not only will a new general plan help protect the county from litigation, it’s important to the economy as individuals look to invest locally.

  “We are in an uncertain time without the general plan,” Wilson said.

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