County commission adjusting to reorganization

Changes can be frustrating.

The Yavapai County Planning and Zoning Commission had the opportunity to vent a little during a joint meeting with the County Board of Supervisors.

The Planning and Building Department is no longer, absorbed into the new Development Services Department. The commission no longer has the particular guidance of a planning and building director and has also been without the accustomed presence of attorney Randy Shurr.

Further complicating an uncomfortable situation is the absence of a General Plan, which the county is updating

"We're working in a vacuum without a general plan," Commissioner Al Wood said. "Sometimes these meetings have been a waste of my time."

Commissioner Helmut Woellmer of Sedona said he missed the direction the commission used to receive from Mike Rozycki, who resigned last year as planning and building director.

That eventually led to the streamlining of that department, Environmental Services and Flood Control into one department. Development Services Director Ken Spedding said the department is in the process of cross-training staff employees for better efficiency.

"If we were in a bind, Mike would get us out of it by revising the language" or making other changes, Woellmer said. He added that having Shurr present was insurance when the commission is dealing with applicants' legal representatives.

Spedding, a former chairman of the Prescott Valley Planning and Zoning Commission, said he did not understand why the commissioners feel they need legal help during meetings.

"The legal issues should be addressed before they get their packets," he said. "I personally don't think Randy should be the one making the decisions on whether or not something should be recommended."

The packets are not the problem, according to commissioner Jacque Weems. She said Shurr is there to answer questions, not advise the commissioners on how to vote.

Supervisor Chip Davis recommended having an attorney present at all times.

Woellmer said that the lack of a general plan to use as a blueprint often has the commission winging it on decisions.

"Fifty percent of the time we're trying to reformulate during the meeting," he said.

Supervisor Lorna Street sympathized. "We're so far down the tube that we're making the rules at every meeting," she said.

To meet the state requirement, the county is working to have the initial phase of the new general plan filed by December to bring the county into compliance, Shurr said. The county is working with Dava & Associates and Community Sciences to plan and implement the general plan.

There was disagreement over how the general plan should be formed. Davis said his idea was to build off the various community plans already in place. Weems said the county's general plan should come first.

"This is probably the most healthy conversation we can have because we are dealing with philosophies," Davis said.

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