Amador County begins to implement general plan settlement
On August 14, the Amador County Planning Commission approved proposed changes to the county zoning code that were included in the agreement settling Foothill Conservancy’s lawsuit challenging the county’s 2016 general plan update. While the county is creating a new code chapter that refers to “design standards,” the new code provisions are more significant than that may sound.
The Amador County Board of Supervisors will consider the zoning code changes at its meeting on Tuesday, September 11 (see agenda packet). If you can, please attend and speak up in support of these improvements to our county zoning code. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. and the related public hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. The meeting is at the County Administration Center, 810 Court St., in Jackson.
As called for in the settlement, the zoning code changes will:
- Require the board of supervisors to make specific findings of fact in approving projects in high-risk and very high-risk wildland fire areas. The findings address fuel breaks, water supply, building materials, emergency response times and more.
- Require the board to make specific findings when approving projects on agricultural lands to avoid conversion of lands to nonagricultural uses.
- Require the board to establish better protections for wildlife, aquatic resources, and water quality.
- Require applicants for commercial projects of 5,000 square feet or more to conduct an economic impact analysis of their project on the viability of existing businesses.
The supervisors will consider two additional resolutions related to our settlement agreement. The first resolution will require the county to develop or make available information to project applicants and real estate agents on the risks of wildland fire, available levels of fire and emergency response, and wildland fire prevention methods. In August, we offered to work with the county on selecting those materials. Toward the end of the month, we sent them a list of good materials and made suggestions about cost-effective ways to make them available and ensure they’re regularly updated.
The other resolution will require the county to develop a comprehensive set of general plan performance measures, with regular monitoring and periodic reports to the county board of supervisors. Our settlement agreement laid out a set of performance measures based on general plan goals and the sources for that information. The first report will not be due until 2021.
We are pleased to see the county moving forward to implement the settlement and hope that the supervisors will approve the zoning code changes and resolutions. If you cannot attend the meeting, please call your Amador County supervisor at 209-223-6470 or send the board an e-mail urging them to honor the settlement agreement and improve our local planning processes.