Raleigh City Council voted 4-4 yesterday and denied a citizen petition to extend the comprehensive plan public comment period. Jason Hibbets presented a petition on behalf of several community groups to extend the time by 30 days.
The public comment period will wrap up at the end of the month to keep the plan on schedule. The planning department has received more than 300 comments since the public comment period began in early December. City Planning Director Mitch Silver says his department will incorporate those comments into the next draft, which will be released for a public hearing in March.
Hibbets said the 2030 plan was “outstanding,” but he urged the council to consider more time for community feedback due to the “overwhelming” scope of the plan.
“Let me be clear, we are not here to ask you to modify the proposed schedule set forth by the Planning Department. Instead, we wish to maintain the time line to adopt the plan but extend the public comment period to maximize citizen involvement,” Hibbets said.
In a debate with both Hibbets and the planning director at the podium giving their cases to council, Silver said that while he “certainly understands the desire for the public to provide input” there are time crunches, and there have already been 17 public meetings.
Silver continued to say every mechanism has been involved in getting the word out to the citizens and the city’s planning staff have responded to public comments within 24 hours. It was also noted that 300 comments have been made online, and the planning department meets weekly to go over complicated comments.
Silver pointed out that other cities have only had 30 days to review, and Raleigh has allowed 60 days. Silver reminded council that there is another planning department analysis scheduled and offered to keep track of public comments through February.
“What are we racing to? We need to be very thoughtful and understand it. Asking for a little time is not going to wreck the train,” Thomas Crowder (District D) said. He said he supported extending the 2030 Draft Comprehensive Plan comment period, by 30 days.
“We can have a special hearing any time we want to,” Crowder said, “This is going to have the most affect of anything council will do since the ’80’s.”
Mayor Charles Meeker said he wanted to keep the plan on schedule because, he said, he hopes to begin implementing it this fall.
Thomas Crowder, Russ Stephenson, Nancy McFarlane and Roger Koopman voted to extend the deadline. Charles Meeker, James West, Mary-Ann Baldwin and Philip Isley voted against the extension.