Planning Commission recommends approval of Three Rivers Community Plan


After lengthy discussion and testimony from a number of Three Rivers residents, the Tulare County Planning Commission voted Wednesday (May 30) that the Board of Supervisors approve a General Plan Amendment, the “Three Rivers Community Plan Update” and Final Environmental Impact Report. The vote was 6 -1 in favor of the community plan amendment and 7-0 in favor of the FEIR.
The lone dissenting vote on the plan was cast by John Elliott, District 1 commissioner from Three Rivers, who agreed with community residents who sought more review time, especially for the county responses to comments that only became available for public review in the past 10 days. The actions are non-binding without BOS approval.  
In effect, the recommendations pave the way for adoption of the Three Rivers Community Plan after a public hearing and additional responses and comments are added to the two-volume document. 
Testimony by both Greg and Laurie Schwaller of Three Rivers cited multiple inadequate or incomplete responses to a number of the more than 700 comments received on the Community Plan or the EIR. The Schwallers asked  for more time to review county planning staff responses. 
David Wood testified that he could pass off on the EIR but the community plan document was poorly organized and cumbersome. Wood asked the commission to continue the public hearing at Planning Commission level for a few more months to give all concerned a chance to meet and better understand the comments, responses, and reams of information compiled in the Community Plan. 
Michael Washam, associate director of the county’s Resource Management Agency, said there will still be a period of  weeks to review those comments and provide more testimony during an upcoming public hearing before the Board of Supervisors.
Two other motions were passed that recommended changes in zoning regulations that were outlined in the community plan. In effect, these rezone some areas adding mixed uses to commercial areas. 
Commissioner Elliott cited and agreed with a proposal that was entered into the public record requesting that the Three Rivers Community Service District be funded with an annual appropriation of five percent of TOT (transient occupancy tax) collected in Three Rivers to develop community-driven projects. 
One other recommendation was also passed that would ask the BOS to develop an oak woodlands ordinance to apply exclusively to the Three Rivers (not the entire county) urban development boundaries. The voluntary oak woodland management plan, currently in the Three Rivers
Community Plan does not mandate any measures to prevent the indiscriminate cutting of “heritage oaks” prior to an application for a grading or building permit.      
For more information on the Three Rivers Community Plan and its process, call the RMA at 624-7000 or log onto the Tulare County website and click on Three Rivers Community Plan Update.

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