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					                                        M E M O R AN D U M



TO:         RELEVANT STAFF AND MANAGEMENT—TALLAHASSEE-LEON PLANNING DEPARTMENT

FROM:       DAVID M. BLAIS, STAFF—TALLAHASSEE-LEON PLANNING DEPARTMENT

SUBJECT:    PROPOSED REVISIONS TO THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN AMENDMENT PROCESS

DATE:       10/2/2011

CC:         TOM TAYLOR, FLORIDA CONFLICT RESOLUTION CONSORTIUM




      As you are all aware, citizens in our community have found our amendment

process less than satisfying. The citizen-led Blueprint 2000 an example of this

dissatisfaction. In this case, our process proved so unresponsive to the needs of

these citizens that they organized themselves to resolve their primary issues. It

seems that our amendment process must be more responsive to citizen input.

Our attempts at satisfying mandated citizen participation requirements have been

considered effective in the past. For some reason, however, this has not been

the feeling of late.

      This memo suggests some possible revisions that could be incorporated into

our process to make it more effective.                The goal of these revisions is to

incorporate interested citizens into the process in such a way that their level of

satisfaction is increased. This will, hopefully, greatly reduce the possibility of

future litigation. These revisions should also eliminate the resubmission of failed

amendments in subsequent amendment cycles.                       This will make amendment

processes more efficient as we should not have to deal with identical issues from

one cycle to the next.




                                                  1
   In an effort to identify possible revisions, I examined our existing process

structure. This examination revealed that, though the Department of Community

Affairs is responsible for final approval, our process does not incorporate them

until Step 6. We also currently fail to allow for a period of thorough citizen

involvement. I have drawn up a set of revisions that seek to address the areas of

weakness directly. Figure 1 is a diagram of our existing process as well as the

revisions I would propose.   Also attached, is a more detailed description of the

proposed revisions as well as how we would manage and institutionalize the new

process.




                                        2
                                                                             Figure 1 : Diagram of Tallahassee-Leon's
       Step 1:                                                        Comprehensive Plan Amendment Process** with Revisions
  Application
    Period
                                                                                        (Semi-Annual Process)
                                                                  Step2a:
       Newspaper
                                                             Preliminary
 advertisement notifying                                                                                                 Proposed
the public of the opening                                    DCA Review
 of an amendment cycle                                           DCA issues
                                                                                                                         Revision
   and the application             Step 2:                    preliminary review
  deadline. Applicants        Staff Review                           letter.
  may submit proposed
 amendment during the            Period
    mediation period..       Planning Department
        (30 days)*            staff conducts review
                               and analysis of the                Step 3:
                             proposed amendments         LPA Review and
                             and issues a report and
                                recommendation.           Public Hearing
                                    (30 days)*             Local Planning Agency
                                                             workshop and public                    Step 4:
                                                            hearing with due public
                                                         notice and public testimony,      First City-County
                                                                  resulting in               Commission
                                                         recommendations to the City        Public Hearing
                                                          and County Commissions.               Joint City-County
                                                                   (30 days)*              Commission public hearing,
                                                                                            with due public notice and              Step 5:
                                                                                              public testimony, to be     Joint Transmittal
                                                                 Step 3b1 :                   followed by a series of      Public Hearing
                            Step 3a:                                                             separate and joint             Joint City-County
                                                               Citizens'
                    Application for                                                              workshops by the         Commission public hearing,
                                                              Roundtable                   Commissions to discuss the                                              Step 6:
                    Citizen Review                     A set of issues of concern to all
                                                                                                                           with due public notice and
                     Within 20 days of the                                                     merits and formulate       public testimony, resulting in      State and
                                                        stakeholders would require a        tentative positions on the
                         issuance of the                  facilitated roundtable to be
                                                                                                                             transmittal of proposed          Regional
                                                                                              proposed amendments.         amendments to State and
                    recommendations of the             attended by a self-selected group                                                                   Agencies Review
                  Commissions, citizens can                                                     (approx. 30 days)*            Regional Agencies for        Review and comment period            Step 7:
                                                                 of stakeholders.
                    request a citizen review                                                                                   review and comment.           by State and Regional        Adoption of
                 process. Planning department                                                                               (between public hearings)       Agencies. Results in the      Amendments
                     will be responsible for                                                                                                                       Objections,         Within 60 days of receipt of
                   coordinating this process.                   Step 3b2 :                                                                                   Recommendations, and        the ORC Report from              Step 8:
                                                            Issue Specific                                                                                 Comments Report issued by    DCA, joint City-County
                                                                                                                                                             Florida Department of                                     Amendments
                                                              Taskforce                                                                                                                Commission adoption public
                                                          A diverse set of issues may                                                                         Community Affairs.        hearing, with due public         Effective
                                                         require that stakeholders be                                                                              (60 days)*          notice and public testimony,   The amendments do not
                                                       grouped according to their issue                                                                                                 at which the amendments       become effective until the
                                                       of concern. Issue specific groups                                                                                                       are adopted.           issuance of the Notice of
                                                         would be formed to facilitate                                                                                                          (60 days)*              Compliance by DCA
                                                               focused discussion.                                                                                                                                     and the completion of a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       citizens' appeal period.
                                                                                                                    *Any dates can be modified by agreement of the parties.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             (65+ days)*
                                                                                                                    **Source: Tallahassee-Leon Planning Department, "Plan Amendment Process"

                                                                                                                                3
       Currently, each amendment cycle takes over ten months to reach a

conclusion. The application period, which is the first stage in this process, occurs

each January and July. Citizen applications are only accepted, however, for the

cycle that begins in the month of July. During this 30-day period, our department

solicits applications for amendment to the Comprehensive Plan. Though citizens

cannot apply for consideration in the cycle that begins in January, there still may

be a need to incorporate these revisions into each cycle.

       The Department of Community Affairs is responsible for final approval of

all proposed amendments. By requesting a preliminary review letter from the

DCA, we could eliminate any amendments that were considered unrealistic. We

could also identify those issues, which may be controversial.             With this

knowledge, we could more adequately prepare for any potential challenges that

may arise during the cycle. Involvement of the DCA would also assist us in

directing those amendments for which chances of success were marginal. This

revision is included in Figure 1 as Step 2a.

       As stated in the memo that introduces these revisions, there is a great

deal of discontent in the community with our process. While it is recognized that

our process can successfully manage uncontroversial issues, often the

controversial issues can be the most important in planning for the growth of our

community. It, therefore, seems important that we redesign our process in such

a way that it can effectively incorporate the needs of all of our citizens. With this

in mind, I have proposed a series of changes that intend to incorporate the needs




                                           4
of interested parties in the community more effectively. Figure 1 illustrates these

changes.

       During Step 3 we conduct public hearings and assist in the preparation of

recommendations to the City and County Commissioners. These public hearings

have proven unsuccessful in allowing citizens to feel that their interests have

been fully represented. At this point in our process, I suggest we allow citizens to

apply for a citizen review procedure (Step 3a). We could allow citizens to apply

for this procedure within 20 days of the issuance of the recommendations

generated during Step 3. We would then determine whether the issues that the

citizens requested to be reviewed are of a similar or dissimilar nature. Should it

be determined that the discontent of the relevant parties is related to a single

problem area, we would issue a notice of a citizens’ roundtable (Step 3b1). A

neutral party, who would be identified through an officially recognized group such

as the Florida Conflict Resolution Consortium, would facilitate this roundtable. All

interested parties would be invited to attend the first meeting. For subsequent

meetings, those attending the first meeting would select a set of diverse

individuals as representatives of the essential stakeholders.       This group of

representatives would meet to discuss the controversial issue.               These

discussions would allow all parties to express their needs and interests. The

product of these meetings would be a memo that would be included with the

recommendations that we submit to the City and County Commissioners as a

part of Step 3.




                                         5
         We may find, however, that the issues that concern the citizens are not

related in such a way that it would be efficient to have a single-issue discussion

group.    In this case, it would be necessary to divide the issues into groups

according to their similarity. We would then arrange issue specific taskforces

(Step 3b2). The procedure used by these taskforces would be similar to those of

the citizens’ roundtable.   We may find, however, that issues initially thought

distinct may be interrelated. Should this be determined, the members of the

taskforce could refer such issues to a more comprehensive, citizens’ roundtable

for discussion. Recommendations from the issue taskforce meetings would be

referred to the City and County Commissioners with the other recommendations.

         Our office would manage the proposed process.      By incorporating the

needs of the citizens more effectively, we should be able to reduce the amount of

time and money spent on future challenges to the Plan. While the proposed

revisions would likely need to be amended to the enacting statue eventually, we

could begin to institute such revisions informally at the beginning of the next

amendment cycle.




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posted:10/2/2011
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