UPDATE – 11.10.15
A citizens’ group submitted petitions today to the city secretary calling for a referendum to repeal the Plano Tomorrow Plan. The City publicly stated prior to the petition being circulated that the comprehensive plan is not subject to referendum. After the City learned that a petition was being circulated, the City reached out to the petitioners on several occasions to invite them to submit any contrary legal analysis to the City for consideration in an attempt to resolve any disputes over the issue. The petitioners never responded to the City’s request. The City maintains the position that the comprehensive plan cannot be submitted to the voters as explained below.
Texas courts have ruled that certain subjects are beyond the power of a city to submit to popular vote. One of these subjects is zoning. Zoning ordinances must be adopted pursuant to a specific process including a requirement for hearings and review by the planning commission. Since state law sets out a specific process for adoption of zoning ordinances, cities are not authorized to alter that process by submitting zoning ordinances to initiative or referendum.
While the comprehensive plan is not an individual zoning regulation and does not determine zoning district boundaries, it provides the framework and policy for zoning. Zoning regulations are required to be adopted in accordance with the comprehensive plan. Plano’s development regulations incorporate the comprehensive plan by reference. Because it is inextricably part of the zoning process and, like other zoning ordinances, is required to be adopted or amended following hearings and planning commission review, the ordinance amending the comprehensive plan cannot be submitted to the citizens for a vote.
City Manager Bruce Glasscock has communicated with the group that the City is consulting with attorney Andy Taylor, formerly the First Assistant of the Texas Attorney General’s Office under John Cornyn with expertise in election law, on this matter.
A report will be provided to City Council at their November 23 meeting.
POSTED – 10.13.15
The Plano Tomorrow plan, “a long-range plan guiding the future growth, development, and redevelopment of the city,” was yesterday evening approved with Plano City Council, who voted 6-2 in favor.
With only 7% of Plano land still open for development, and with an estimated maximum population of 300,000 (current population 275,000), there can be no doubt that Plano, the City of Excellence, is in need of a plan to ensure the city continues to be a regional leader.
Mayor Harry LaRosiliere said, “We’re a regional leader, and we remain that way because we plan and we execute. We will be the desired place for Plano to live, work and play.”
The plan is not without its controversy, however. Eighty-one Planonites turned out to speak in the public hearing held at the City Council offices in Downtown Plano, while hundreds more were in attendance. Of those 81, approximately 20 spoke in favor of the plan, while the majority spoke out against it. Fears included overcrowding, traffic and congested schools.
Moving forward, those against the plan intend to submit a recall petition against council members who voted for the plan. To be successful, the recall petition would need signatures that total 30% of the votes cast to elect each of the council members.
Hot topic: Apartments
The majority of the controversy has come from the topic of apartments, or rather “multi-family” units. This controversy stems from rumors that the plan would allow the City to build 40,000 apartments. This however is not part of the Plano Tomorrow plan. According to planotomorrow.org, The Plano Tomorrow Plan allows for “5,329 more housing units in the Plano market, including all housing types.”
To read more about the apartments topic, as well as other concerns, you can visit the FAQ section of the Plano Tomorrow website.
Hot topic: Impact on Education
A secondary source of concern is the impact that the plan might have on the Plano education system, based largely on the premise that 40,000 new homes would provide an influx of students that would degrade the quality of the education system. The council did reassure citizens that the approval of any new developments would continue to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, utilizing the same high standards that have made Plano the successful community it is today.
What Plano Tomorrow is and is not
While the Plano Tomorrow plan is a framework designed to facilitate intelligent growth, refining the previous plan that was successfully put in place in 1986, it is not intended as an exact blueprint, but rather as a set of guidelines, values and long range objectives that will help the city take the correct actions when the time is right to continue building on the success the city has enjoyed over the years.
The Plano Tomorrow Plan: A Summary
The following is a very brief summary of the Plano Tomorrow plan curated from the Plano Tomorrow website. For a more complete overview of the plan please visit planotomorrow.org.
Plano Tomorrow is a long-range guide to the city’s future over the next 20 years. It is a key long-range guide for the future growth, development and redevelopment of our city. It is not binding. It is only a plan, a set of guidelines for the future. Plano Tomorrow is indeed comprehensive. It has 41 policies, 274 action statements, 10 key components and 5 supplementary maps.
The Plano Tomorrow plan provides policy and direction in terms of land use, transportation, housing, and other important aspects of a city and is envisioned to cover a long-term time horizon. The established policies and actions of the Plano Tomorrow plan provide a framework which individuals, businesses, and public officials can use to make decisions that are consistent with the community’s vision for the future.
Public Hearing Video
If you would like to view the entire public hearing on the Plano Tomorrow Plan, here is the video: