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Panel sends General Plan to Colusa board with endorsement
The Colusa County Planning Commission sent the 2030 General Plan Update to the Board of Supervisors with its full endorsement.
"After approximately two years and six months, we are here with our final draft of the General Plan Update and Environmental Impact Report," Planning Director Steve Hackney said Monday.
The commission voted 4-0, with newly appointed Commissioner Eddie Johnson abstaining. The commission also recommended certification of the Environmental Impact Report.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to take up the matter in April.
Hackney emphasized the General Plan is unique in many ways, noting the document emphasizes the importance of both agriculture and economic development.
"Colusa County is an agriculture county; and for the first time, the General Plan has an agriculture element," said Hackney.
That element spells out the goals and policies for agricultural lands in the county.
That was noted in a short discussion about the resource conservation designation in the plan, the language for which was changed from district to designation so as not to be confused with the agency.
The policy's intent, Hackney said, is that before agriculture land can be designated as a resource conservation area, neighboring interests must be taken into consideration.
"If you want to take land out of agriculture, it has to meet certain criteria," Hackney said. "And one of those is you have to apply for a general plan amendment and zoning designation change." Hackney said the specific language was in response to a lawsuit involving the state Fish & Game Department and a conservation project it had in the county a number of years ago.
The county sued and eventually prevailed.
"I think the General Plan as a whole does a good job to protect agricultural land," said commission Chairwoman Marion Mathis, who fought similar battles while one of the leaders of the Family Water Alliance.
"We all know there is predation from resource lands on ag lands."
The commission got a quick review of the plan by representatives of the De Novo Planning Group, the consulting firm that guided the process and put together the plan.
"You have an ag element for the first time, and you have an economic development element," Hackney said.
Ed Hulbert, chief executive officer of Colusa Industrial Properties, applauded that specific effort.
"If we even accomplish a fraction of what is in here, the county will be in very good shape," said Hulbert, who has been closely involved in the development of the General Plan.
Part of that thinking includes taking advantage of the natural resources in the county, which is why the plan also has a recreation element for the first time.
To that end, the plan has a parks and recreation designation that has been placed in a variety of locations, such as the Colusa's riverfront area.
Another key zoning designation is urban reserve, a kind of overlay on agricultural transitional lands, setting development guidelines and rules.
One such piece of ground is 67 acres south of Princeton. A 100-lot subdivision has been discussed for the property.
Denis Cook, representing the development group, re-emphasized the request to make the standard a master plan instead of a specific plan when the project moves forward.
He said it will do everything the specific plan requires, but it will be less expensive to complete.
The change had already been made in the document.
The next step for the commission is working on the Zoning Code, which will also be guided by the De Novo Planning Group.