GPU Enters Closing Phase

The Board of Supervisors’ next meeting on the county’s General Plan Update won’t be until Aug. 22 but intense behind the scenes work will continue as the update’s environmental review is developed.

Supervisors discussed several items related to the update’s closing phase at a Feb. 1 update hearing. Their first order of business was review of several late-arriving land-use map change requests.

Supervisors agreed to take up the requests at one of their near-future future regular meetings. They’ve accommodated landowners with map change requests even though they’d previously announced that the time window for accepting them is closed.

The county will soon work on revising the update’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and further changes won’t be allowed. “There will be a very hard and fast deadline,” said Planning Director Rob Wall.

He added that “time does stop” for further work sometime prior to the county’s announcement that a new draft EIR is available for public comment.

The board has made numerous changes to the version of the update that was approved by the county’s Planning Commission in 2012. County Planner Michael Richardson explained that the update’s EIR now needs to revised and recirculated for a new round of public comment on it. “The environmental document that was associated with the earlier draft forwarded by the Planning Commission is a bit stale and needs to be refreshed,” he said.

Landowners have asked for and gotten map changes such as residential density increases, which trigger the potential for more daily vehicle trips and other impacts. Aspects of the update identified by staff as needing the most revision are its traffic impact analysis, noise impact analysis, greenhouse gas emission analysis and analysis of project alternatives.

The EIR will be developed with the assistance of a yet-to-be-hired consulting firm. Supervisors voted to direct staff to develop a Request for Proposals (RFP) document that outlines the work that’s needed to be done and invites firms to propose contracts for doing it.

Supervisors gave staff four weeks to return with a final RFP for approval.

Richardson said any remaining land-use designation requests can be processed by the end of this month. A consultant is expected to be hired in March, with work on the EIR carried out in April and May.

A final version of the EIR will be developed in June and July, Richardson continued, with Board of Supervisors review scheduled for Aug. 22.

The hearing was continued to that date. “With that, we get a long, long break from the General Plan Update,” said Board Chair Mark Lovelace.

But Fennell noted that for planning and legal staff, work will continue full swing as the update’s impact analysis is revised.