Jun 5, 2019
by Will Carruthers
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved a plan Tuesday to allocate staff hours over the next two years to complete planning efforts including finalizing the county's cannabis zoning rules, updating an existing tree protection ordinance, and beginning the latest version of county's long-range planning document, the General Plan.
The supervisors unanimously approved a work plan proposed byPermit Sonoma's Comprehensive Planning division after recommending some changes to an initial staff proposal at a meeting April.
The document, known as the Comprehensive Planning Work Plan, determines how many hours county planning staff will allocate towards a variety of long-term planning efforts.
In this case, the supervisors directed staff to complete current and urgent projects in addition to eleven additional projects supported by members of the community.
Under the work plan passed Tuesday staff will begin the scoping process for the 2020 General Plan, a document that lays out the county’s “objectives, principles, standards, and plan proposals” for issues including land use, housing and open space.
Milan Nevajda, a deputy director of planning, estimated that the General Plan update will take five years to complete. After completing the one-year scoping process, the county will hire a consultant to complete the report, a process that takes four years, according to Nevajda.
Since legalization last year, cannabis zoning has been the subject of heated debate in some parts of the county with residents criticizing the location of some proposed facilities and cannabis business owners complaining about legislative uncertainty.
“Let’s not frustrate these business owners anymore,” Supervisor Shirlee Zane said of the cannabis planning effort at Tuesday’s meeting. “Let’s get it done.”
County staff will begin studying an ordinance to add extra protections for trees in the county from certain kinds of land use. While the county has a tree ordinance, activists argue that extra protections are necessary.
“The County’s Tree Protection Ordinance is currently not sustainable… insofar as it allows trees including oak woodlands to be cleared for hay, wine grapes, and more,” activist Kimberly Burr wrote in the Gazette in 2015 when an update to the ordinance was being considered.
The supervisors also approved a staff recommendation to allot hours to complete projects already underway.
The projects, which have already been funded, included completing planning documents for the Sonoma Developmental Center, the Sonoma County Airport, and the Sonoma Springs area.
More information about the county’s Comprehensive Planning efforts is available on Permit Sonoma’s website.
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