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Sat, Nov. 16

Committees prepare conservation ordinance

PRESCOTT - Members of two Yavapai County Development Services technical committees continue working to create a Residential Conservation Subdivision ordinance for the county building code.

To develop the new code, planning officials established two committees - Sustainable Planning and Green Buildings.

Each committee includes planning and building officials, planning and zoning commissioners, representatives from local cities and towns, and contractors, developers and architects.

The committees plan to give the Board of Supervisors and Planning and Zoning Commission a draft ordinance during a joint session Oct. 31.

Planning Manager Elise Link said the county formed the committees based on the technical expertise and backgrounds of the volunteer members.

The committees' mission is to "create partnerships to identify practical applications and practices to incorporate into codes, regulations and ordinances in order to enable the county to have the tools to implement energy, water and other resource conservation measures for the economic and environmental sustainability of its residents."

Link, a member of the sustainable planning committee, said the panel's main goal is to develop a residential conservation subdivision, "which is allowed by right." A second goal is updating the county's general plan to "include a natural resource and energy element required by law for counties with a population more than 150,000," Link said.

She said the members of the sustainable planning committee are architects, engineers and developers. Link said that at this stage, the committees are fact-finding. Development Services officials want to gather information before "developing a draft ordinance to be presented to the supervisors and commissioners," she added.

The sustainable planning committee meets every other Friday and currently has a "very rough draft. We are still fine-tuning it," Link said.

The committee members are exploring conservation measures such as open space, clustering, preservation of wildlife habitat corridors, continuity, and other issues environmentally sensitive to natural features.

Link, Planning and Zoning Commissioner Tom Reilly and Chief Building Official Jack Judd stressed that a Residential Conservation Subdivision ordinance provides "guidelines for developers who voluntarily choose sustainable planning. It will not be mandatory."

Link said the committee is looking at options and incentives to encourage developers to choose sustainable planning and green building.

"Our goal is to make doing the right thing as easy, if not easier, than doing the wrong thing," Reilly said. "We are trying to define what the right this is, and also to define the carrots."

Judd said an energy code is important. He said energy conservation includes saving resources, using resources wisely and conserving water.

Judd met with officials from the City of Prescott and the Town of Prescott Valley this past Tuesday to talk about energy conservation. "The adoption of an energy code is the first step. Then we can modify the code to the needs of each jurisdiction," Judd said. "Then we can look at green building."

Green building is the use of energy-efficient materials to reduce energy use.

The technical committee will submit a draft to the supervisors and commissioners. The county officials and planners will review, and offer feedback to the committees.

Link anticipates the supervisors will tell the committees whether they are on track and should move forward.

If the ordinance moves forward, the supervisors will return it to the technical committee for fine-tuning and public comment.

The committee will submit the ordinance to the planning and zoning commission, which will conduct public hearings in Prescott and the Verde Valley.

The commissioners either can accept the ordinance and forward it to the Board of Supervisors, or return it to the technical committee for additional work.

If the commission approves it, the supervisors will consider the ordinance after a public hearing. The public will receive notice of the public hearing through a display ad in the newspaper.

The board can accept and adopt the ordinance, or send it back to the planning commission.

Link said the public would be able to comment on the ordinance "every step of the way."

For more information about the proposed Residential Conservation Subdivision ordinance, call Link at 771-3214.

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