Letter To The Editor: P&Z Commissioners Welcome Public To Comprehensive Plan Review Process

Los Alamos County P&Z Commission

In the upcoming weeks, press releases, news articles and print and electronic ads will announce the second round of public meetings continuing the process of public input in the coming update of the County Comprehensive Plan.

These meetings will be addressing policies and issues of real concern and import to citizens and the Planning and Zoning Commission would like to see a large turnout for these meetings.

As I described at the outset of the Planning and Zoning Commission public input process earlier this year, 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, ten, 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.

Following a first series of events in March allowing members of the public to weigh in on general policies and desires for the future of the County, the Planning and Zoning Commission is sponsoring a second series of meetings seeking public input on narrower and more specific topics. The Staff of the County Community Development Department and our independent consultants at ARC, Inc. have analyzed the results of the first meetings, several informational surveys and extensive background research and have developed three topics for further public input. The Comprehensive Plan website has all of this information posted at losalamoscountycompplan2016.com.

On June 15 at UNMLA Room 230, 6-8 p.m., we will be exploring the state of our existing neighborhoods and what kinds of protections and regulations should the County retain, revise and adopt for neighborhoods. The current policies and the zoning code promote and support infill development and increased density in many neighborhoods in town. Do we still wish to have these policies in place or do we need new policies to protect the quality and value of our neighborhoods. One of the topics to be explored is the need to address short term rentals of residences going forward into the future.

On June 22nd at Fuller Lodge from 6:00 PM to 8:00PM, we will be discussing the question of growth, downtown development and revitalization (both in town and White Rock) and how the County will address needs for expected new LANL employees (with many retirees staying), increased tourism from the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park and infusing downtown vitality.Among the issues to discuss is where and what residential development should be allowed and encouraged in and near downtown.

On June 29 at the White Rock Fire Station, 6-8 p.m., we will be discussing open space, transportation and connectivity around Los Alamos and its roadways, bike paths and trails. The need to address protection and preservation of County open spaces and park and recreation facilities will be addressed. As well, we would like input on how our transportation network will need to be adapted to meet Comprehensive Plan goals.

Following review and synthesis of public comments from all sources, the Planning and Zoning Commission will, in a series of public work sessions in July, adopt policy and content guidelines for drafting the text of the Comprehensive Plan. The final drafts of the Comprehensive Plan and associated land use maps and exhibits will be posted for public comment prior to public hearings on adoption of the Comprehensive Plan in front of the Commission. Following this process, the proposed Comprehensive Plan will be referred to the County Council for additional public hearings and final adoption.

Throughout the development of the Comprehensive Plan update process the Planning and Zoning Commission stress the need for public input and we embrace and emphasize this at all stages of the process. Accordingly, the Commissioners look forward to seeing as many citizens as possible in this second series of meetings in the coming weeks. It is citizens’ opportunity to have direct input on matters that have an effect on your homes, property and quality of life.

Thank you.