Comprehensive Land Use Plan Amendment
Plan concepts are expected to be given time to work and are not expected to be changed without a comprehensive consideration of all relevant issues and the implications to other elements of the Plan. For this reason, state law provides that the Plan and all of its elements may not be amended more often than once a year.
While the Plan provides consistent guidance over the long term, it is not a static document. From time to time it must be amended and goals and policies adjusted to address new ideas, to take advantage of new opportunities or to address identified problems.
State law requires a jurisdiction to review its Plan every 7 years to evaluate the effectiveness of its land use strategies and to determine if goals and policies have resulted in the desired outcome. Periodically Lacey undertakes a comprehensive review of all of the Plan’s elements.
In addition, Lacey provides an opportunity for citizens to request changes in the Plan. Once a year the Council and Planning Commission meet to discuss the long range work program and land use planning priorities. During this review, applications from individuals will be considered for inclusion in the Planning Commission work program.
If you want to propose a Plan amendment the following is an explanation of the process.
Step One – Discussion with Staff
Contact a representative of the Planning Team to discuss the reason for wanting to amend the Plan. They will help you evaluate your situation and determine if an amendment to the Plan is the best option in pursuing your desired outcome.
When proposing an amendment to the Plan, staff will also advise you as to implications of amending the Plan and potential problems or issues that may be associated with your request. Staff will do their best to provide you with advice on the merit of an amendment request. Because changes to the Plan are costly and take a great deal of time, it is not to anyone’s advantage to process requests that have no chance for success.
If after discussion with staff, you want to make application for amendment of the Plan the next step is to fill out an application for consideration.
Step Two – Request for Consideration
Timing: Timing for a Plan amendment is often difficult for personal schedules because state law only allows a jurisdiction to amend its Plan once a year. For this reason, the Plan amendment schedule is inflexible and requires submittal of an application requesting consideration by the first working day of January. The application for consideration will be reviewed at the annual joint Planning Commission/Council work-session when the Planning Commission’s work program for the year is established. The joint work-session typically will take place at the end of January or first part of February. This process is referred to as the “docketing” process.
Requesting consideration for being placed on the docket and cost: There is no cost for the first part of the process where you simply request consideration and ask to have your item placed on the work program docket. This part of the application process is designed to give applicants an opportunity to request consideration and to get a determination if the request can be put on the work program docket before you undertake the significant work and expense that is typically involved in making a full amendment application.
Council decision to include or not include and amendment request in the work program: At the joint work-session with the Planning Commission, the Council will consider the merit of your request. This will not be a detailed review and it will only determine if your request has enough merit to justify placing the application on the work-program. This is essentially a screening process to filter out applications that have little chance of success to avoid spending valuable time, effort and cost on requests that the Council will not approve.
If your amendment is accepted for inclusion on the work program, a full application will be required. The full application will require a fee to cover a portion of the costs to process and evaluate the application.
Step 3 – Submitting a Formal Application:
Cost – The cost to submit an application for amendment of the Plan will depend on what other application requirements it might have. Usually a Plan amendment is accompanied by an amendment of the zoning map and an environmental checklist. Please see the Planning Fees Schedule for more information.
What the application includes and requires – A Plan amendment application asks detailed questions concerning the necessity of the request and the impacts the amendment will have on the long-range development of the City. An application will require detailed answers and often specialized information and land use data to properly evaluate the impacts of an amendment request. Evaluation must include the implications to all other elements of the Plan.
This evaluation will usually include consideration of land resources reserved and available for the full range of land use the community will need over time. This will also require consideration of consistency with other goals and policies pertaining to land use, housing, transportation, utilities and services.
Often an applicant will find it helpful to hire a professional that has experience in comprehensive land use planning, to help provide the necessary information to answer the questions and justify the request. However, this is not required.
Timing – Your application will be included in the Planning Commission work program and it will be scheduled and bundled with other Plan amendments so the City Council will be able to consider all of the amendments together as required by state law. Typically, this will involve Planning Commission review and the required public hearing between March and April, with the application bundled together with other amendments and sent to the Council in June. Council will normally review the Planning Commission recommendations and take action in late June or July, depending upon the scope and complexity of the amendments.
Elements of the process – The main elements of the process include the opportunity for public review and the Planning Commission and City Council’s consideration. You will get an opportunity to interact with the Planning Commission and Council when these bodies consider your application.
Planning Commission consideration – The first part of the process involves Planning Commission review where they will hold a public hearing. At the hearing you will have an opportunity to give a presentation about your request. Members of the public will also be given an opportunity to comment on your application.
After the public hearing the Planning Commission will consider the application materials, staff’s recommendation and analysis, comments from other agencies and departments, all of the information submitted at the hearing and all of the public comments. Based upon consideration of this material and testimony, the Planning Commission will formulate a recommendation on your application. The recommendation is then bundled together with other Plan amendments for submittal to the City Council.
City Council consideration – When the City Council gets the recommendations on all of the proposed Plan amendments, a work-session will be held to advise Council of all of the issues that were considered and the Planning Commission’s recommendations. This work-session will not be a formal public hearing and there is no opportunity to make a presentation. The application will be reviewed based on the record established by the Planning Commission.
However, often at this work-session there will be an opportunity to answer questions Council members may have about your request. For this reason it is suggested you attend the work-session.
Suggestions may be made at the work-session for refinement of developed amendments such as minor changes in specific wording. Once the amendment package is considered “ready for action” the package is taken before the City Council at a regular meeting for formal action. Council will then consider all of the various amendments and either approve or deny the proposed changes.
Changes made by Council will be advertised in the local newspaper and will take effect three days after publication.