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Sun, Oct. 20

Prescott General Plan gets P&Z Commission OK

Making the general plan more general: That was the result of some last-minute steps that the Planning and Zoning Commission took this week with the draft plan.

The commission took its final look at the 116-page plan on Thursday, before unanimously voting to recommend approval to the Prescott City Council.

The vote came after months of section-by-section review of the draft document. Earlier this past month, for instance, the commission refined the plan's language on the impact of group recovery homes and vacation rentals on neighborhoods, and also looked at parking in the downtown, workforce house, and "firewise" practices.

Before last week's decision, commissioners further tightened up the plan by taking out a reference to the Highway 69 corridor in the section on workforce (affordable) housing. Planning Manager George Worley explained that the Highway 69 reference dates back to the 2003 plan, when the highway area was among the city's main commercial corridors. Since then, he said, other areas have emerged as well.

The removal of the Highway 69 reference "made it less specific" to one area, Worley said.

The commission also removed language that refers to the need to take "active measures" against panhandlers and vagrancy. Again, Worley said the previous language was too specific for a general plan.

Likewise for a section on outdoor lighting, which Worley said had outlined the types of lighting that the city would allow.

With the positive recommendation from the commission, the plan will now go on to the City Council for further review.

Worley said the council is scheduled to get an update on the draft plan on Dec. 2, which likely will set off a series of future council discussions about the plan.

Ultimately, it will be up to the council to send the plan to the voters for final approval. Worley said the city is now eyeing either the Aug. 25, 2015, city primary, or the Nov. 3, 2015 general election for a vote on the general plan.

In order for the general plan to make it on the primary ballot, City Clerk Dana DeLong said a council vote to set the election would have to take place by late April. For the item to get on the general-election ballot, the council would have to act by early July.

The proposed plan includes 12 elements: introduction; history and physical environment; existing conditions and trends; general plan summary; land use; growth management and cost of development; circulation; open space; environmental planning; water resources; economic development; and community quality.

The plan's introduction emphasizes that the document "does not have the effect of law." Rather, it states, the general plan is an expression of the community's preferred future."

The general plan rewrite dates back to May 2011, when the City Council-appointed general plan committee assembled to begin updating the city's 2003 general plan.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks

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