Goal-oriented community plan is underway for Three Rivers


In the second of a monthly series of local meetings to expedite the adoption of the Three Rivers Community Plan, county planners reiterated: the 3R Community Plan will be what you make it. By “you,” Michael Spata, Tulare County associate director of planning, was referring to the more than 20 locals who showed up last Monday, March 10, to what will be a year-long schedule of meetings.

“These meetings will be working sessions where we will flush out the issues,” Spata said. “The outcome of an effective plan is one that considers all the alternatives with the end product being somewhere in between the opposite ends of the spectrum.”

In the discussion of the plan’s goal number one — Compatible Development — it was apparent that most attendees were wondering how the community plan would affect franchise businesses like the new Subway that might locate in Three Rivers.

“The community plan is the document to define policy of which businesses might not be appropriate,” Spata said. “But to ban a business that attempts to locate within proper zoning and operate lawfully there would have to be… a threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the community.”

Spata said the county’s General Plan Update 2030, adopted in 2012, was general in nature and intended as the umbrella. The updated Three Rivers plan will become a more specific appendix. The work completed on a previous Three Rivers plan up to 2009 has been made available to incorporate into the 2014-15 update.

Karen Bodner, who attended those past community plan meetings, asked if there would be an oak tree policy.  Spata answered that this type of policy was within the realm of the plan but how these policies are worded is key. 

Antoinette Cloutier, owner of the local coffee bistro, raised issues of signage and noise, offering the perspective of a business owner.

“That’s what the plan is supposed to do,” said Dave Bryant, Tulare County planner in charge of special projects. “The community plan will address all the planning considerations — Cal Trans policies, scenic highway, ordinances, zoning, etc., and come up with specific policy relevant to Three Rivers.”

Veterans of the last community plan effort who attended Monday’s meeting, in addition to Bodner, included James and Kathleen Seligman, Tom Sparks, and Maya Ricci.

There was also some discussion of incorporation as a means for local control. Spata said that incorporation is ultimately how to control “your own community plan” but the petitioning town must demonstrate financial feasibility. Incorporation was tabled and referred to the Three Rivers Village Foundation for further discussion.

“The County seems to have made a real commitment, this time, to updating the Three Rivers plan,” Bodner said. “I’m hopeful and perhaps even somewhat optimistic that at the end of the process we’ll have a plan that ensures that Three Rivers can prosper while still managing to maintain its character.”

Bodner also said that the turnout was good for the first working meeting but that she hopes more locals will attend so the final document “will truly reflect the values and priorities of Three Rivers residents.”

The next community plan meeting is scheduled for April 14 at 7 p.m. at the Three Rivers Arts Center. To review relevant documents log onto: www.tularecounty.ca.gov/rma/index.

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