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Before you receive an application or testify at a hearing
- Go to a hearing before you are involved in a land use application to learn how a hearing is run. Hearing agendas can be found on the county web site here.
- Some CPOs call special meetings to address applications that are sent to CPOs between their regular meetings. Special meetings are addressed in the bylaws. Amend CPO bylaws to accommodate for this situation. The example below is an excerpt from the model bylaws.
Before the CPO meeting
- Call the land use applicants and invite them to the CPO meeting. This will help with understanding their application and will allow the neighbors to ask questions of the applicants directly.
- If the location of the application site is on the border of two or more CPOs, make sure it is within your boundary. If it is not within your CPO boundary, call your neighboring CPO and let them know you also received the application. Share any comments you may have with them. The Planning Division will send an application to adjacent CPOs if project is near the boundary. The proposal may affect your CPO even though the project site is outside your CPO area. Respond to the application if your CPO has concerns.
- Call the staff planner directly if the CPO has questions about the application. The planner may not have conducted a full analysis of the application, but her/his role is to be objective and to help everyone that has questions about the application. The planner's phone number is on the application notice. By January, 2003 the staff planner's email address will be on the notice.
- Drive by the application site. Ask a CPO member to drive by the project site before your CPO meeting to give an account of the site and surrounding uses.
During the CPO meeting
- Use the entire Zoning and Development Ordinance (ZDO) when reviewing the land use application. Bring the ZDO to the CPO meeting, and focus on the applicable criteria listed in the notice or pull out the applicable ZDO sections listed in the notice. Bring those sections to the CPO meeting. Read the ZDO at the meeting for everyone in attendance to hear. ZDO on internet is up to date, here.
- CPOs should negotiate with applicants on issues of concern. Encourage the applicant to reach a consensus with the CPO. The county mediation program could be a resource.
- If you address legal requirements that are not County regulations, it may have limited relevance to the county decision. However, there is a review process with outside agencies. Include specific concerns in the application to bring it to the attention of the planner.
CPO response to the application
- Personal knowledge of the community, past history and experience is helpful in the response back to the Planning Division.
- Explain the vote. Explain why the CPO voted the way it did. What were the concerns? Explain the concerns. Refer to the ZDO.
- In your response back to the Planning Division, explain potential neighborhood impacts such as dust, noise, storm drainage. Refer to ZDO criteria when project does or does not meet criteria. Refer to the example in number 2 above.
- In your response back to the Planning Division, don't be afraid to state your interpretation of the criteria.
- Suggest ideas to make the project better.
- If a description is incorrect in the application, make note of it in your response to the staff planner. Prior to a full analysis, the staff planner may not know if an area is served by septic tanks instead of on a community sewer system. The applicable agencies are notified of the application and additional application information will be supplied to the planner if it is not accurate in the application.
After the CPO meeting
- The Planning Division suggests sending CPO comments via US Mail; however, the planner's email address will be on the application notice by January, 2003. CPOs should organize the comments so one response is being sent from the CPO to the planner. If the application is a controversial one, the CPO may want to call the planner to let her/him know that s/he should be receiving a recommendation from the CPO.
- Use an outline to prepare for oral testimony.
- If the CPO is not able to be present at the hearing, but is very interested in a certain application, call the planner the day after the hearing to learn of the outcome. The CPO will be able to better prepare itself for the next steps in the process.
At the land use hearing
- When you are orally presenting testimony and after you have used the ZDO to support your case, state the main point, state the evidence and explain how the approval criteria in the ZDO relates to the main point.
- Repetitive testimony is not usually effective in a hearing setting. Try to divvy up testimony among neighbors present or simply state that you concur with the previous testimony before you begin with your testimony of new information.
Additional suggestions for an effective CPO
- CPO members could be mentors to new members. Long time members need to keep new members informed about connecting the responses to the ZDO.
- Periodically review the Best Practices document with your entire CPO.
- Share information among your CPO and with other CPOs. CPO List is here
- Once you have exercised these best practices, volunteer as a testimony coordinator for your CPO.