Three Rivers Community Plan


After four meetings, the majority of the discussion around the Three Rivers Community Plan has dealt with framing elements that will guide county planners in determining the future of Three Rivers beyond 2030. Michael Spata, Tulare County’s associate director of planning, has promised that the updated plan will be completed by the end of 2015.

The meetings to date have been devoted to incorporating the previous draft (2009) and compiling research that might be useful in the Three Rivers update. The background documents have come from the Three Rivers Community Visioning Process (2001) and source material complied by Dave Bryant, special projects planner.

Among the topics that have warranted the most discussion are local control, an effective noise ordinance, signage, and striking a balance between economic development and the preservation of resources.     

 Three Rivers is foremost about the river and how that resource contributes to the character of the place. Beyond that, it’s a gateway community to a national park. 

Bryant has furnished reams of copies of how other communities embrace and profit from their identity. During the Monday, May 12, meeting at the Three Rivers Arts Center, the community plan for Springdale, Utah, a town on the boundary of Zion National Park, was presented as an example of how the gateway community definition is tied specifically to the national park.

The goal of the Springdale plan is to preserve the town’s unique appearance: a small rural village surrounded by the natural beauty of Zion Canyon. The town focuses on the form and character of the natural and built environment.

Springdale is limited in its growth by the physical constraints of the Zion Canyon and limited water resources. With a current population of 687, it is estimated that the town could potentially support 1,800 residents.

Residential and commercial buildings are restrained in size in terms of footprint, height, and mass. Springdale has a good mix of residential neighborhoods – from small-lot subdivisions near the town center to lower density in the foothills.

In the central commercial core, building design, sidewalks, and signage encourage people to walk around. Small, locally owned businesses provide a hometown flavor; the elementary school is an important community focus.

Sound familiar? It should because in certain ways, Springdale is a best-case scenario of what Three Rivers might aspire to be.

“The difference in the Springdale model is that Three Rivers is spread out along the various forks of the rivers,” said Lee Goldstein, a regular attendee of the monthly meetings. 

He also cited there are more diverse interests among the somewhat larger population that live and work here.

Dave Bryant said he was pleased with the turnout of 20 to 25 for the second-Monday-of-the-month, regular meetings. The foundation of the community plan, he said, is contained in the goals, and number one is reaching a consensus on compatible development.

New attendees are always welcome. All Three Rivers Community Plan Update materials may be reviewed on the county’s website:

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