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Planning boards’ future discussed

Tuolumne County planners and policymakers will continue discussions this month about eliminating multiple planning commissions and committees.

The Columbia Area Planning Commission will consider a proposal on April 11 to rework the planning process in a way that will essentially make the commission obsolete for design review.


The county Board of Supervisors is scheduled Tuesday to vote on disbanding all of the county’s area planning commissions, including Columbia, and eliminating the design review committees.

The meetings will continue a process initiated by the Board of Supervisors in February, when it moved to eliminate both steps in the planning process.

The county has commissions for Columbia, Jamestown and Southern Tuolumne County, which make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on amendments to county zoning and long-range development plans, as well as land-use and development proposals in their areas. They also can approve permits on conditional use, design review, site review and development, though those decisions can be appealed to the Board of Supervisors.

Changes under discussion also include disbanding the Phoenix Lake, Muller subdivision, Twain Harte and Tuolumne City design review/planning advisory committees. Those committees comment on permits in their designated areas, which have additional zoning rules for properties.

The design review standards will only be handled when county planners review other permits for construction projects, and the design review permit would be eliminated altogether.

The idea came from a task force created to review the necessity of the county’s myriad commissions and committees, which supporters say complicate the planning and permit process for developers and take up staff hours and money. However, members of the commissions and associated communities have said these bodies give them a voice and a role in local government that they would not otherwise have.

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