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Thread: Citizen participation plan

  1. #1

    Citizen participation plan

    I have been searching the various citizen/community based web sites, and have not found what I am looking for. I thought one of the members of this forum might be able to assist me.

    I live in Toledo Ohio, and we are rewriting our municipal code to provide for more citizen input early in the zoning process. We have found an ordinance from Glendale, Arizona, entitled the "Citizen Participation Plan". This plan requires any proposed development to hold a meeting with the residents who may be affected by the development, and address their concerns, BEFORE any public hearing before the Planning Commission is scheduled.

    This appears to be a good solution to a long term problem regarding citizen participation: little advance notice.

    Do you know of any other cities that might have such a Citizen Participation Plan? We are trying to review various plans, before going forward. So far, we have been unable to find any other than the one from Glendale.

    Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide.

    Harry Ward

  2. #2
    Citizen participation is a good thing, but difficult to mandate. We strongly encourage any developer to meet with the adjoining neighborhood prior to the public hearing, but it really is impossible to "certify" that any such meeting takes place.

    We (Lexington, KY) have a strong system of neighborhood associations and make notice to the association president a requirement. We frequently postpone action to allow for more negociation between neighbors and applicant. We also serve as facilitators for such meetings, when asked to.

    I think this is one of those areas that is better left to the neighbors to set their own level of involvement. It is a good thing to keep some distance between planning staff and the neighbors, just as some distance is required between staff and developers. Sometimes you have to go against their wishes.

  3. #3
    I'm in the middle of doing one right now. At the direction of our City Council I drafted one, which we are calling the Public Participation Ordinance, about a year ago. It is heavily based on the Glendale ordinance but is slightly less cumbersome (for the developer). It has completed a round of public comment meetings, and now, in a somewhat watered-down form, is making its way through our Planning and Zoning Commission for a recommendation before going to City Council for possible adoption. In fact, I took it to P & Z two days ago and they voted to table it, so who knows what will eventually happen.

    But--when initially researching this, I ran into a lot of dead ends. Even APA's PAS had no info. As far as I know, a lot of places are looking at adopting such an ordinance but only Glendale has one up and running at present. The folks at Glendale are helpful but I got the impression they are inundated with requests for information. Thus, I would be happy to provide you with any information I have, tell you about our approach to the ordinance, and tell you what (I think) we did wrong and how you might be able to avoid it. As you can well imagine, the development community HATES it.

    I have a huge file of information, including newspaper article clippings, various versions of the draft ordinance, meeting minutes, etc. Let me know if I can help. (It won't be easy, believe me!)

  4. #4
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    When I was working in Aurora, any development proposal that was to be heard by the Planning Commission, including development review for commercial and residential projects, was referred out to all registered neighborhood associations within a one mile radius of the site. (Most of the city was covered with neighborhood association districts.) Comment cards from the NAs would be returned to Planning, and included in all staff reports. If the comments appeared to have a negative bent -- not mere NIMBYism, but real opposition to the project for "legitimate" reasons, we'd arrange neighborhood meetings between the developer and the neghborhood associations. Even if the proposal was a model project meeting the city's zoning code, design standards and comp plan, it would probably fail at the Planning Commission without neighborhood association support.

  5. #5
    I would like to get more information regarding your experiences in Aurora. I don't seem to be able to send you an E-mail from the Cyburbia Cafe. Could you E-mail me. I am most interested in knowing if what you described was formalized in an ordinance, or just something that the Planning Commission did informally.

    Harry Ward
    Last edited by Dan; 05 May 2008 at 3:15 PM.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Oct 2005
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    Bloomington, Minnesota
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    Minnesota took a decidedly anti-citizen turn a couple of years ago. The Legislature decided that once a written application was submitted, cities & counties had 60 days to approve or deny. This can be extended by an additional 60 days (with notice in writing to the applicant), but that's it. If you don't approve or deny within 120 days, it's automatically approved. There have been 3 appeals court cases so far, which back up the statute.

    Cities do have the right to establish standards and requirements for applications. I suppose one of the requirements could be a neighborhood meeting, but that seems unnecessary in all cases.

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