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Thread: How many is too many? Amendments to Comp/Official Plans

  1. #1
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    How many is too many? Amendments to Comp/Official Plans

    This has been bothering me for a while and thought I'd see what others think.

    I administer a number of Official / Comp Plans. I am wondering how many amendments are too many and at what point does the document totally lose credibility?

    For example, the upper tier plan we use is going on 75 amendments in about 6 years (adopted 1997, approved and all appeals ended 2001). I'll be bringing forward 6 in the next 2-3 months. I see this as a flaw in the way the document is written, especially when I look through the amendments many are the similar, just at different locations.

    I also have a plan that is only partially adopted, and will come into total force and effect, hopefully in the next 2-3 months. I already have 2 applications to amend this document, one totally foreseeable during the document's preparation, the other an odd ball. I know of at least 2 more, both foreseeable and logical.

    So the question is how many amendments to a document are acceptable before the document should be rewritten to address recurring issues?
    What would you do to explain your position to the people above, without antagonizing them for poor professional skills?

    PS - I can understand many amendments to old plans that could not foresee things, but what i am talking about is realtively new documents.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  2. #2

    Registered
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    California State Planning Law limits changes to our "Land Use Element" to 4 per year.

    Of course, they can accumulate over time, and you can package/combine amendments so that there are even more than four actual changes to the map or text, but....

  3. #3
    Cyburbian ludes98's avatar
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    It sounds as though the document(s) lacked vision to address the community's vision and development for short period. You might need a rewrite. The town I live in is finally doing a complete zoning code re-write after 30 years.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I donít have an exact number, but the more amendments that are made, the less credibility it could have. One solution would be to have many amendments packaged together into one. I pencil in notes on post-itís for items that I think we might want to look at for future changes. Things such as typos and corrections would be different situation.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  5. #5

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    I don't think there is a magic number, but you are certainly right in saying that too many amendments reduce credibility. My friend Chris Duerksen has a presentation on the Top 10 Ways you can tell your zoning ordinance is in trouble, and one of those ways is when the planning department orders post-its by the trainload! The best way on his list is when you find your ordinance in the foreign language section in the local library!

    At the same time, documents have to evolve. One thing I have done that has been workable for some jurisdictions is to write an annual review process right into the ordinance (or plan) and require that all amendments be reviewed and made at once (I usually write it in for January or February, when the flow of applications is a little lower, at least in the north country).

  6. #6
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    I think the comp plan should be an adaptable tool. Therefore an overall cap on changes would not be a good thing, but maybe a cap on yearly cycles is a good thing so you donít do too much too fast. That is what my former county of work used to do and I agree with that practice.

    About the build up, it could (but didnt happen where I was) happen. Maybe a system of no hold overs would be the best practice to aviod this.

    And as far as a new plan, just becuase it is new, doesnt mean it doest overlook things (sorry). I believe, that unless the area just totally changes (like some cases in the rapid growing Fla or whatever), it is most likely better to amend the existing, rather than rewrite the book. New plans are always full of gliches.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Yeah....but....

    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    I don't think there is a magic number, but you are certainly right in saying that too many amendments reduce credibility. My friend Chris Duerksen has a presentation on the Top 10 Ways you can tell your zoning ordinance is in trouble, and one of those ways is when the planning department orders post-its by the trainload! The best way on his list is when you find your ordinance in the foreign language section in the local library!

    At the same time, documents have to evolve. One thing I have done that has been workable for some jurisdictions is to write an annual review process right into the ordinance (or plan) and require that all amendments be reviewed and made at once (I usually write it in for January or February, when the flow of applications is a little lower, at least in the north country).
    I enjoy hearing Chris Duerksen talk every chance I get. I really miss the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute Conference now that I'm in Florida. He was key to getting several previous employers to buy into updating our codes and comprehensive plan. Comprehensive Plans should be updated once a year by the jurisdiction/community in my opinion. Places that allow amendments to meet development demands are not in control of their own destiny and are driven by politics (who isn't?) and all mighty tax $$, not good pro-active planning...Tends to transform Long Range planning into a current planning tool (and oh, by the way, this is one of the biggest problems in planning today, the lack of adequate long range planning).... This issue is a hold over idealistic thought on my part from my youth just my 2 cents...(Not intended to piss off any economic planners out there )
    Skilled Adoxographer

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