STUDY SESSION AT OR AFTER 6:00 P.M.
Commissioner Barrett arrived at 6:05 PM.
Chad Daines, Principal Planner, provided a presentation that included the following:
- Objective of a Neighborhood Meeting Code
Bayer Vella, Planning Manager, presented a brief synopsis on the background of Neighborhood Meetings.
Mr. Daines, continued with the presentation that included the following:
- Summary of Current Requirements
- Experience: Hierarchy of Audience Needs
- Case Example -Cell Tower
- Case Example - Major General Plan Amendment
- Summary of Changes
- Benefits of Amendments
Commissioner Pitts commented that the neighborhood meeting process is moving in the right direction. He would like to see a better attendance and substance at the neighborhood meetings. He applauds staff but believes we can fine tune a little more.
Commissioner Pitts would also like information provided to the residents so they know about the upcoming meetings. In addition, advertising in the Explorer Newspaper, extending the time period of the property notice, expanding notice radius as well as providing a link on the Town's website with the upcoming neighborhood meeting information.
Commissioner Hitt, questioned if the changes made to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) was brought before stake holders for comments.
Mr. Daines responded that Town Council initiated this item in November 2014 and assigned Councilmember Zinkin and Councilmember Hornat to work on developing these changes.
Commissioner Hitt questioned the proposed ordinance, item 3: Exemption from Neighborhood Meeting Requirements. Letter b, and questioned if all the requirements need to be met for an exception.
Mr. Daines responded that the exemption from neighborhood meeting requirements would have to meet all the requirements to be exempt.
Commissioner Barrett commented she was happy to see the timing requirement of the notice was 15 days. Commission Barrett went on to comment she would like to see the property signs more readable.
Mr. Vella commented the idea behind the update is to reflect what we are doing today. This was the objective when we first sat down with Councilmember Hornat and Councilmember Zinkin and worked on the re-draft. There will be instances that will be different that will not be reflected in the SOP. There will be deviations to the SOP in terms of the way the process goes, but the bulk of the applications will follow the SOP.
Chairman Rodman commented that he has attended a number of neighborhood meetings where he has seen the meetings handled differently depending on what the issues were. In every single case the people had the opportunity to participate in the meetings, after the meetings and even one-on-ones. He found staff accommodating every possible way to communicate with the neighbors about what was going on. In most of those cases, the applicant was very accessible as well.
Bill Adler, Oro Valley resident, commented this is not a study session.
Mr. Adler went on to comment that there are some profound differences between his point of view and the Town's point of view. It has nothing to do with notice or property notices, it has to do with how people are prepared when they confront the applicant. He would like to provide some graphic evidence what he considers educational and what the staff considers to be an overview. Mr. Adler went on to comment that waiting for people to ask questions is not how you educate, you anticipate questions and you provide the information.
Mr. Adler provided educational and background material that he used in past neighborhood meetings. Mr. Adler reviewed each component with the Commission.
Mr. Adler commented that neighborhood meetings are about getting the citizens to understand so they can participate at the applicant meeting. What he cares about is people understanding the process and what they need to know about this process in order to help them engage with the developer on an equal playing field. Mr. Adler appeals to the Commission to look over the handouts and incorporate more of what's in the handouts so that the ordinance treats people the way they should be treated.
Don Bristow, Oro Valley resident, stated he is in support of Bill Adler's comments 100%. He has been approached by other residents asking what questions they should be asking the developer. The public needs to be educated in a way they can come before the Commission and speak intelligently about the things the Commission is supposed to be looking at. The property signs need to big enough to be read. Some of the issues mentioned tonight are important from a communications standpoint but don't address the issue of getting the citizens involved.
Commissioner Barrett questioned Mr. Adler as to whom does he propose the material he provided be given too.
Mr. Adler responded he was not proposing anything, he was communicating what he did because what is being done is unsatisfactory to him.
Chairman Rodman questioned if maybe some if not all of the material handed out by Mr. Adler could find its way into the SOP.
Vice-Chair Leedy commented that he has attended numerous neighborhood meetings and his opinion is the process is working reasonably well. Could the process be better, always yes, but he has yet to witness a single instance in which staff limited or hesitated in making information available when it was asked for. Vice-Chair Leedy suggested enhancing the notification process with some sophisticated email notification software or a more effective use of social media. Information could be added to the website closer to what Mr. Adler is proposing so that people can be informed.
Commissioner Pitts commented he agrees with more information at the meetings is needed. Training the staff is essential in addition to the developer fitting the bill for material. Commissioner Pitts went on to comment that he agrees with Commissioner Barrett regarding the property signs needing to be larger and more readable in addition to a link on the Town's website providing information about the upcoming meeting and proposed development.
Commissioner Barrett commented that she would like to see Town staff take a more of a backseat roll at the neighborhood meetings. It would be appropriate for the developer to advocate for their own positions, as well as the neighbors advocating for their positions and the Town staff acting more as a facilitator.
Chairman Rodman stated that in the SOP, under the second meeting, number4: Questions and comments for the audience are taken with the goal of achieving consensus between the applicant and the residents. Chairman Rodman commented that should not be our goal, he doesn't believe it should be in the SOP. Our goal is to come to a solution.
Mr. Vella commented that staffs focus is to be objective and the applicant's responsibility is to carry the freight for their application. Our goal is not to develop consensus between both parties, our goal is to develop consensus that there is a direction from the crowd.
Commissioner Barrett stated she likes the idea of letting the residents know what is being proposed at the first meeting instead of it being informational. In the small group meetings her concern is one group taking sides over other groups.
As this was a discussion item, no action was taken by the Commission.