This fall, work may move swiftly on the 2022 General Plan update process as Paradise Valley town staff sets up a series of proposed deadlines to begin renewing the 10-year document.
With COVID-19 to blame for a delay, Paradise Valley officials have proposed a condensed process this fall in order to realign with the original vision of completing the update.
During the Town Council’s first meeting back from summer break on Sept. 10, the General Plan update process kicked off the new fiscal year with a fresh track to the August 2022 election.
The General Plan is Paradise Valley’s guiding document that outlines the community’s goals and policies. It must be approved by Town Council before being placed onto a ballot for voter approval.
Arizona state law requires towns and cities to update their General Plan every 10 years — the 2012 Paradise Valley General Plan was approved by 80% of the town’s voters.
During meeting discussions, town officials pointed to new and exciting technology and ideas that have emerged in the past 10 years to be used in the General Plan update.
Special Project Planner Loras Rauch presented plans on the update process during the upcoming two years. Former Community Development Director Jeremy Knapp, who led the update charge last spring, departed from the town over the summer, officials say.
Town Manager Jill Keimach says the General Plan update was started prior to COVID-19, which then delayed the project.
“We ended up hiring a very exceptional planner, who has a lot of experience both in the Valley and also specifically in Paradise Valley,” Ms. Keimach said of Ms. Rauch.
“She has made significant edits in the, and I think already added significant value to this position.”
The request for proposal to hire consultants to assist with the plan update was issued on Aug. 24, with a deadline of Sept. 14. Just four days later, a selection committee shortlist is expected to be made with three finalists, and interviews will be scheduled.
If this goes as planned, a contract with a consultant is scheduled to be presented and potentially approved by Town Council on Oct. 8.
“We had utilized the same scope of work that had currently been worked on by staff,” Ms. Rauch said. “We added a lot of requirements for format to the response so that when we looked at them, they were apples and apples not a fruit salad. There were specific things that we highlighted that we wanted to make sure that we achieved. We didn’t want the slick presentation materials, we wanted specific items to be addressed in those RFP’s.”
Ms. Rauch pointed out, a General Plan is not a zoning map; an unchangeable document; a detailed policy for specific properties or areas; nor a capital improvement program.
The preliminary schedule for the General Plan update includes selecting a consultant to be approved by Council this fall followed by the start of community outreach.
The budget for this project is $120,000 split between fiscal years 2020 and 2021.
Ms. Rauch says the town asked consultants to condense their upfront work to get to a public participation plan quickly.
“Originally, I think, when Jeremy had sent out the schedule — again that was in March before everything kind of blew up — he had about a three- to four-month process for the public participation plan to be developed, and then come to council for adoption,” Ms. Rauch explained.
“We’ve asked them to do that within a month to a month and a half. We have told them that in the RFP, and were made aware of that in the pre-submitall conference call.”
Ms. Rauch aims to have a draft public participation plan presented to Town Council at a November meeting for their input. The final public participation plan would then be up for council adoption in December.
“So again, it is a very shortened time frame,” Ms. Rauch said. “But we did that in hopes of getting close to the original time frame that was set out for this project so that again we can make that August ‘22 election for ratification.”
Town Council members offered a few questions following the updated time frame proposal.
Vice Mayor Julie Pace asked whether public participation would be in-person or through online meetings
Ms. Rauch said there likely will be a combination of the two, with small in-person meetings if any. Ms. Rauch pointed out public participation will most likely occur January through May, before many residents flee to cooler weather for the summer.
“I’m expecting some Zoom, some web surveys, outreach to different civic organizations, but I’m hoping the consultant can come up with some very unique ways for outreach,” Ms. Rauch said.
“Trust me, the ones that I know of that have pulled the RFP together and were on the conference call, were very reputable companies that have been doing General Plans for a long time. There are some new cutting-edge ideas out there, so I’m very excited to see what they are proposing. We really put an emphasis on them putting some new ideas on the table.”
Ms. Pace and a handful of other councilmembers backed the idea of a combination of printing hard copies of the General Plan and putting the document online.
Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner says the plan’s public outreach portion will require attention.
“COVID, and assuming some folks won’t be out and about as much — I have a lot of confidence in this council and this staff that we have a pretty good understanding of what expectations are from our citizens on the core issues, but we definitely want that public participation,” Mr. Bien-Willner said. “I think a challenge will be to ensure we’re getting a broad swatch of commentary and not just — special interest is the wrong word — but those who might be more attuned to certain things, or want their voices heard on certain areas. That we really have a plan that’s represented of everyone, including, in this era, people who may be a silent majority and less engaged given the circumstances.”