For immediate release:
Representative Barton and Councilman Oravits work to change state law regarding Regional Plan, Barton requests Coconino County Board delay their Dec 3rd vote.
Residents affected by the Flagstaff Regional Plan who are outside the Flagstaff City limits who currently do not have the right to vote on final adoption of their plan may get to do so thanks to Representative Brenda Barton looking into amending the state law.
“A voter inequity issue currently exists between City and County residents that needs to be remedied,” stated Councilman Oravits. “County Residents in the FMPO area affected by this plan should have the same right as City voters in the final adoption of their plan,” Oravits recently stated.
Representative Barton stated in a recent letter to the County Board,
“Proposed legislation would apply statewide and is being drafted to address the issue of equity; giving a voice to all citizens impacted by such a broad reaching document as a regional ten-year blueprint for growth and development”.
Flagstaff City Councilman Jeff Oravits has been working with Representative Barton (LD6) to craft legislation that would grant the residents of the Flagstaff Metropolitan Area, the unincorporated, mostly rural areas surrounding the City of Flagstaff, the same right to vote on the Flagstaff Regional Plan as City Residents have. Barton is proposing state legislation that would allow for a vote of all citizens impacted by regional planning documents.
The draft plan was created by a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) made up of a total of 15 members of City and County Residents with a majority being City of Flagstaff Residents. The draft plan was then sent as two individual documents to the Flagstaff City Council and the Coconino County Board of Supervisors for separate debate by the respective bodies. The County Board with only one public hearing and zero recommended changes from the County’s P&Z Commission is anticipated to vote on final adoption of the plan at their 3:00PM December 3rd meeting. By contrast, the Flagstaff City Council has reviewed the plan for nearly 12 weeks and a majority has decided to debate almost 200 changes to the plan at its December 6th all day meeting. Any plan passed by the City Council is then required to go to the City voters for final approval.
Councilman Oravits had first requested allowing the County voters the right to vote several months ago at a joint County/City meeting. It was pointed out at that meeting that the law doesn’t allow it and that it would be complicated to allow County Residents the right to vote.
“I believe not only is a fix the right thing to do but that it is not as complicated as some have portrayed. This obvious voting inequity issue has been known for years and should have previously been resolved. I’m more than happy to work towards resolving this issue,” Oravits said.
Representative Barton’s request is simple and is a long time coming. In a letter to the County Board, she states,
“It is our understanding that the voters of Flagstaff will have the opportunity to approve or disapprove the City’s Regional Plan on Election Day May 2014. Unfortunately many of your constituents will not share that right. A delay of your decision on December 3rd will have no fiscal impact on the county and would allow ample time for proper legislation to be introduced and passed. This will result in the enfranchisement of all residents impacted by this important planning document.”
For additional information please contact Councilman Oravits office at 928-213-2015 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org
Read Representative Barton’s letter to the County Board below.
Honorable Members of the Board:
Inasmuch as sound public policy often requires the consensus of those directly impacted, I’m sure we would all agree that any regional planning document impacting the lives and the property of our citizens should, by prudent consideration, have their assent.
It is for this reason that you are being asked to postpone the upcoming December 3rd decision of the Board regarding the adoption of the Flagstaff Metropolitan Regional Plan.
To resolve the issue of inequity referenced earlier, state legislation that would allow for a vote of all citizens impacted by regional planning documents, encompassing both incorporated and unincorporated portions of any county is being considered. Such potential legislation may be introduced as early as mid-January 2014.
Such proposed legislation would apply statewide and is being drafted to address the issue of equity; giving a voice to all citizens impacted by such a broad reaching document as a regional ten-year blueprint for growth and development.
As you are aware, current statute allows for residents residing within the incorporated limits of a city the basic right to vote for or against such a regional plan. Unfortunately, such enfranchisement is not extended to residents of the unincorporated territories of the community that will also be directly impacted by such a municipal plan.
It is our understanding that the voters of Flagstaff will have the opportunity to approve or disapprove the City’s Regional Plan on Election Day May 2014. Unfortunately many of your constituents will not share that right. A delay of your decision on December 3rd will have no fiscal impact on the county and would allow ample time for proper legislation to be introduced and passed. This will result in the enfranchisement of all residents impacted by this important planning document.
Your careful deliberation on this issue is appreciated as you may be sure that many residents potentially impacted by this action will be paying close attention to your final decision.
For these reasons it is requested that you postpone any decision or action regarding approval by Coconino County of the Flagstaff Regional Plan for 90 days.
Representative Brenda Barton
Arizona House of Representatives