Letter To The Editor: P&Z Commission Welcomes Public To Comprehensive Plan Review Process

By PHIL GURSKY, Chairman
Los Alamos County Planning and Zoning Commission

During this past week, press releases, news articles, thousands of post cards, radio interview and print, electronic and radio ads have announced public meetings on Monday March 14, Wednesday March 16 and Saturday March 19 to begin the process of public input in the coming update of the County Comprehensive Plan.

I would like to take this opportunity to describe the function of the Comprehensive Plan in straightforward terms and invite the community to be an active part in the decision making process. Simply put, the Comprehensive Plan lays out the County’s policy and plans for land use decisions in both the Los Alamos Townsite and White Rock for the next five, 10, even 20 years.

The current Comprehensive Plan elements are disjointed, significant portions of which were adopted in 1987. The County Charter requires and current needs demand that the Comprehensive Plan be updated to reflect current realities and provide better and more transparent guidance.

The County Council has adopted policy positions on such areas as open space, affordable housing, economic development, downtown development, historical districts and the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The function of the Comprehensive Plan is to combine these various policy enactments with the desires and wishes of the community and set forth a process and guidance for making specific land use decisions as they come up in the future.

The Planning and Zoning Commission’s job, with the help of our consultants, ARC, Inc., and County staff, is to craft an updated Comprehensive Plan that incorporates these goals and desires, for submission to and approval of the County Council. Next week’s meetings are the beginning of that process.

After synthesizing and reviewing input from the first set of meetings, another set of meetings will be held later in the spring and into the summer, to solicit further public input on specific areas of the Plan. The first and second set of meetings are part of a larger public input program that includes outreach meetings with civic, fraternal and service organizations, comment on the public website (losalamoscountycompplan2016.com), and public surveys.

Following this exhaustive process and drafting of a proposed Comprehensive Plan, yet another set of hearings will be held to seek public comment on the proposed plan. After review and synthesis of comments, a final draft Comprehensive Plan will be reviewed and voted on by the Planning and Zoning Commission for submission to the County Council for adoption. At the County Council level, yet another set of public hearings will be held prior to a vote by the Council on the Comprehensive Plan.

Throughout the development of the Comprehensive Plan update process the Planning and Zoning Commission has stressed public input and we embrace and emphasize the necessity of public input at all stages of the process. Accordingly, the Commissioners look forward to seeing as many citizens as possible next week. It is your first opportunity to weigh in on important issues about what happens in your community.

Thank you.