Development guide to take longer to finish

Calaveras County’s general plan won’t be complete by the end of 2013, according to Planning Director Rebecca Willis.

Back in the fall of 2012, supervisors set a 12-month deadline, a time frame Willis described as “hugely optimistic and accelerated” and District 2 Supervisor Chris Wright characterized as a “politically motivated” move by the former board.

Still, the Planning Depart-ment was working hard to complete the plan within the given time period until receiving a letter from the Calaveras Planning Coalition. The correspondence pointed out the methods the department was using to secure a plan within 12-months – preparing the general plan document and the environmental impact report at the same time – was opening the county up to potential liability.

“The tragedy of starting with the wrong project description (general plan document) is the foundation from which the rest of the EIR is constructed. When a project description is wrong, the impact analyses are wrong, the alternatives are wrong, the mitigation measures are wrong and the findings of fact are wrong,” read an excerpt of the letter.

Willis described the coalition’s letter as a “great heads up.”

“They saw something and thought, ‘Wait a minute, this is going to create problems,’” she said. “County counsel advised me that doing the items concurrently was going to create problems in terms of CEQA requirements.”

The coalition requested that the general plan deadline be extended by six months to allow for adequate circulation of the plan document prior to completing an environmental document analyzing the plan’s impacts.

“The safest path to harvesting a valid and defendable general plan begins by plowing the ground in the thick middle of CEQA and land use law compliance,” read the letter.

“What this means is that it will give people more information before we start the environmental piece,” said Willis. “It’s for all the right reasons and will be better in the long run.”

Willis will appear before the board Tuesday, May 14, with a newly revised timeline.

Contact Kristine Williams at kristine@calaverasenterprise.com.

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