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11/12/2013 10:49:00 AM
Williams P&Z votes to forward general plan revision to city council
Public hearing takes place tomorrow at council meeting, council could adopt plan

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter

The Williams general plan is one step closer to completion after the Williams Planning and Zoning (P & Z) Commission voted to forward the updated plan to the Williams City Council.

The Nov. 7 vote was unanimous for the four P & Z commissioners present at the hearing: Chairman Buck Williams, Vice Chairman John Holst, and Commissioners Josh Smiley and Harry Schmitz. Commissioners Gabe Ayala, Greg Brooks and Brad Massey were absent.

The city council will now put on a public hearing about the plan tomorrow, during which members may vote to adopt the plan.

Cities must update their general plans every 10 years. The general plan has seven elements: land use, circulation, water resources, costs of development, growth areas, open space and environmental planning. It also includes an implementation plan.

Before the P & Z hearing, general plan consultant Rick Counts outlined his proposed edits to the plan in a memo to the commissioners. Those edits included a revised vision statement, a new water storage chart, revisions to the implementation plan and some changes in wording.

The commissioners said they appreciated the changes Counts made to the plan since their last meeting in July.

Of the five people who attended the hearing, two addressed the commission with questions and suggestions.

Denise Poquette asked if her family's property near Dogtown Reservoir would be included in the general plan under growth areas, as they had requested at a previous meeting. Holst said the area is included on page 31 of the plan as "a potential 'village' just south of the city limits."

The Poquette family had proposed the addition at the June general plan meeting, saying they weren't interested in annexation, but simply for the property to be included in the plan as an area for possible development in the future.

Also addressing the commission was Angela Horvath, a health policy analyst with Coconino County's Public Health Services District. Horvath presented the commission with a letter outlining suggestions to the general plan that could improve the health of Williams residents.

"The recommendations are meant to appeal to businesses, community and residents alike by reducing chronic and environmental-related diseases," the letter stated.

Horvath added, "Good health is more than treatment of illness; it is prevention of illness."

The county's suggestions included adding bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and pathways, continuing to evaluate air quality programs and policies to reduce respiratory and cardiac problems, incorporating ride sharing or van pools to Flagstaff medical facilities and evaluating the health impacts of new developments.

Williams said the commission has considered bike lines and trails but that residents don't use the existing trails in the area as it is. However, Holst said he does see several joggers in the downtown area.

"Much more than Flagstaff, this is a pedestrian-friendly community where people can walk from end to end of town and you can go from where you're staying to where you're eating to where you're shopping and whatnot," Holst said. "That ought to be continued."

The commissioners agreed Horvath's suggestions should be included in the general plan.

Counts told the commission he had been in touch with several agencies during the required 60-day review period for the plan, which started on July 31. The Arizona Commerce Authority and the Department of Water Resources both gave Counts their approval regarding the plan. Counts also distributed copies of the plan update to the Northern Arizona Council of Governments, the Kaibab National Forest and the Coconino County Planning and Zoning Commission, although he said he hasn't yet received any formal comments from these agencies.

Prior to the vote, the commission discussed some changes in the land use portion of the plan. Counts explained that the land use map does not necessarily represent the existing zoning.

"It does suggest areas that have been brought up by members of the commission, the public and staff that might be appropriate for future development," he said. "That does not confer automatically a rezoning for the owners of those properties. It merely invites their consideration-that is the private owners' consideration-to apply and go through the rezoning process."

After the commission voted to adopt the general plan as presented with the addition of Horvath's comments, Counts said he would make the changes as soon as possible so he could distribute the updated plan to the city council.

The Williams City Council's public hearing about the general plan is tomorrow at 7 p.m. at city hall, 113 S. First St.

A copy of the draft general plan update is available at Williams City Hall and the City Library.

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