I will try to remain composed as I rerun yesterday's public forum/workshop/meeting/fiasco or whatever anyone wants to call it. Blood pressure is already boiling.
On September 7th, 2006 the Mohave County Planning and Zoning held the second in a series of two public workshops on the issue of the proposed Minor Land Division Matrix. From the beginning, the Kingman/Golden Valley Association of Realtors has raised our objections to any kind of plan along this route.
To me the fundamental issue is that the Commission believes it needs a guideline (as some members of the panel call it) so they can make better decisions on whether or not to allow rezoning and/or lot splits. So the Commission is attempting to put together a document to use in this manner, it is being called the 'Matrix'.
One panel member (hellbent on passing such a measure, Larry Sinagoga) said that private property owners should know ahead of time, before they even dare to apply to make a request for a rezone, if they would be allowed ask for a request to rezone. Huh?? You mean to tell me that a piece of paper that is not a law should be my determining factor on whether or not I'd like the County to consider my request on MY PROPERTY?? Mr. Sinagoga and the other esteemed members of the Commission will one day cease to serve on that panel, but their legacy is to be producing a piece of paper that would limit any chance for a private property owner to inquire about rezoning his/her property.. I just don't get it.
To top that off, Mr. Sinagoga also stated that the Matrix would only be a guideline and private property owners would still be able to make a presentation for a request for a rezone in front of the Commission... again, what?? Well why have the 'guide' or the Matrix then in the first place if you are still going to consider a special exception from one of your buddies??
See, lets say you own 40 acres in a rural part of Mohave County right now and it is zoned AR-36 which means at the present you wouldn't be allowed to split your property into two plats. Hey no problem really, but maybe in 5 or 10 years you decide that maybe it's time to see if you can change the zoning requirements so that you could maximize your property investment. Right now you file a request with Planning & Zoning, they do some amount of research, notify other property owners in the area, and recommend you to make your presentation at the P&Z Commission.
Now your big day is here and you make your case in front of 8 members of the Commission. They weigh their decision based on whatever criteria they have in mind and on other presentations for or against your request from other human beings. The tally up their votes and notify the private property land owner. In this example, lets say you lose to the tune of 5 against to 3 for. You then get a chance to challenge that decision in front of the County Supervisors who have the final say (for clarity the Commission could rule in favor of the request but the land owner would still have to wait on final word from the elected County Supervisors).
To me this is the way it should continue to be done. What the P&Z staff and some members of the Commission are doing though is trying to lessen the workload. There has been hundreds of requests for rezones each month since the word got out about how great of an investment land is in Mohave County. Too much work for the publically paid employees of P&Z and too much paperwork for the volunteer Commission. This is where the proposed 'Matrix' comes into play.
If the 'Matrix' is passed then all of the members of the Commission will be forced to use that piece of paper as the prevailing guideline for their decisions... until of course they let one of their buddies have a waiver or an exception... which they clearly said they would do. Also they are hoping to stop the requests from land owners by showing them the 'Matrix' before they even are given an application for rezone by saying basically that you have no chance at your due process before the government that your property taxes are paying for, thank you very much, don't let the door hit you...
To me, the Commission IS THE MATRIX. I simply could care less if Mr. Sinagoga wants to use his own guideline to make his decision, but I don't want his guideline to be the rest of the panels guideline for determining their own decision. Mr. Sinagoga would never allow me to rezone any land in Mohave County and that is fine with me... but he is not the Mohave County Zoning Czar. In fact there is no such position in the County. I'd like a chance to make my case to the rest of the panel though. The proposed 'Matrix' takes away my opportunity for my voice to be heard... unless they are going to grant me a waiver or exception... which makes no sense. Why have the stinking piece of paper in the first place then??
My comments to the panel basically covered that. Of course I was a bit nervous and I should have said more (I even had more time to do so), however I was the last public speaker on the slate and it was getting late. I did make the comment that the Commission should ask the County Supervisors to excuse the Commission and instead place a Czar in charge of county lots splits and rezones. I don't think that went over very well with the panel or P&Z staff.
My Association has asked the County to consider adopting ARS 11-809 which would bring the County into compliance with state legislation on these matters. Of course many on the panel don't like that because it becomes an ordinance and not some silly guideline that no member of the public voted for. This is government employees running the roost instead of listening to the public on the matter. The 'Matrix' was the idea that came from P&Z staff and they have done their best to lobby the Commission to adopt such a measure. In fact they are already using it to deny, deny, deny requests from the public.
Once all the members of the public had their chance to say, the panel began discussions on altering the 'Matrix'. Right there on the spot they wanted to come to an agreement on a guideline to use. One of the members of the Commission, Bill Abbott, remarked that they were supposed to report to the County Supervisors their findings at the public workshops. He then noted that most of the members of the public voiced out against the use of ANY kind of 'Matrix' or guideline (to which he received a round of applause) even though he himself would be in favor of some sort of guideline. So what did the panel do anyway?? They went on to create a 'Matrix' in the face of the public that just spoke out against having such a guideline. Gee thanks for wasting two afternoons of my time. The panel, not as a whole, has an agenda and it is clear that the tax payers of Mohave County simply do not matter. I left the workshop as the panel continued to alter whatever 'Matrix' they were working on, so I don't know how it all ended before the workshop broke for the evening.
To the Commission... please consider the fact that you are there for a reason. Sometimes that reason is to make difficult decisions that could affect either or a combination of the County, the private land owner making a request, or the private land owners in the area of a potential rezone of property. If you plan on relying on a piece of paper to make this decision, fine, it is your choice. But please don't expect that each and every member of the panel has to use the same criteria to make their own conclusions. Not only for the current Commission, but for P&Z Commissions of the future. How dare you think that your silly proposal (given to you by publically paid government employees) shall be the standard that all private property land owners must adhere to. It is just wrong.
What's next?? I was invited to speak to some republican group (can't remember the particular name of this group) next week, and also invited is a County Supervisor (Buster Johnson) and the Chairman of the P&Z Commission Earl Hamlyn. Oh I do hope Mr. Hamlyn makes an appearance.
Land split matrix (again)