Hearing Information

PLANNING & ZONING HEARING PROCEDURES

  1. Call to order by Chairman at appointed time
  2. Introduction of hearing officer:
    1. Call for signing of name and address
    2. Explanation of hearing procedure and rules
    3. Call for conflict of interest declaration or potential conflict of interest
    4. Call for ex-parte communication declaration and type (in person, phone, written) submit into written communication into record
  3. Reading of Legal Notice by Administrator
  4. Introduction of applicant or representative of applicant to explain the need for action/proposal
  5. Call for testimony from audience, (those in support of the application, those in opposition to the application, rebuttal by the applicant) or, in the order determined by the chair.
  6. Call for letters.
  7. Call for questions from the Commission
  8. Call for further testimony or questions
  9. Adjourn hearing when all testimony has been heard.

PLANNING & ZONING HEARING RULES

The Washington County Planning and Zoning Commission is required by state law to hold hearings on a variety of land use and zoning matters. In order to fulfill their legal requirement of making recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners, the Planning and Zoning Commission will use the following set of rules to that it may gather facts and hear the opinions of the citizens attending the public hearing.

  1. Each person who attends must sign his/her name and address on the sheet provided.
  2. In cases involving zone changes, variances, etc. the applicant or a representative will be first to explain why action is needed. It is suggested that the applicant speak to the audience from the front of the hearing room. The applicant will be prepared with maps, photos and other visual aids to facilitate the discussion of the proposed action.
  3. Following the applicant, the public will have an opportunity to speak,
    after being recognized by the chair. Testimony will be limited to the subject matter advertised in the public notice. Other matters may be ruled out of order by the chair.
  4. A time limit of (5) minutes for each speaker will be in effect with the
    exception of the applicant and a spokesman for the opposition, if there is a consensus among those opposing the proposal. It is required that all who testify state their name and address.
  5. The hearing will not close until all who have signed the sheet have had
    a chance to testify. No one may testify the second time until all in attendance have had a chance to testify once. The hearing will close when all have had a chance to speak.
  6. The chair will be in control of the meeting and has the responsibility to maintain order and civility. Persons who are disrupting the meeting will be asked to leave and, in the event their testimony has not been heard completely, will have an opportunity to submit written comments.
  7. The Washington County Prosecuting Attorney will act as legal counsel to the Washington County Planning and Zoning Commission.

PLANNING & ZONING APPLICATION PROCESS

To bring a zoning issue before the Planning and Zoning Commission, whether a Rezone, Variance, Special Use, Development Agreement, Ordinance Change, or Subdivision, you must contact the Planning and Zoning Office. The regular monthly meetings are held on the third Tuesday of each month. To be on the agenda for this meeting you must have your application completed, accepted by the Administrator, and fees paid in time to be placed on the agenda, which is mailed one week before the meeting. To assure meeting the deadline it is a good idea to start the process at least two weeks before the meeting. A schedule of fees can be obtained from the Planning and Zoning Office.

WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE PLANNING AND ZONING MEETING

You will be asked to present your request before the Commission. The Commission consists of nine (9) members appointed by the County Commissioners. One of the members serves as chairman and presides at meetings and hearings. Also present will be the Administrator and Secretary.
You will begin by stating your name and address for the record.Then state your intentions, and the purpose for these intentions.

Visuals are a plus (pictures of the area, maps showing size, roads, plot plans etc.)

Any pertinent information is useful.

All information will be considered in determining your zoning issue.

The Chairman then asks the members if they have any questions for the applicant. At this time the members may ask the applicant any question pertaining to the request. The applicant may then answer the questions. Persons attending the meeting may also ask questions pertaining to the proposed request.

Note: all questions and comments should be addressed to the Commission.

At the end of the questioning, the chairman will ask for a motion to accept or deny the application. In most cases the motion will be made, seconded and passed to hold a hearing at the next regular meeting. The applicant now has a month to prepare for the hearing. Remember, the questions you answered at this meeting are not the hearing. Next month at the hearing present all information again, and be sure to address any questions brought up at the meeting that you may not have had the answer to.

The Planning and Zoning office will write a legal notice and submit it to the local newspaper for advertising. This same notice is sent to landowners within 300 feet, or adjoining owners if more than 300 feet. All paperwork, applications, receipts, legal descriptions, deed information, conformation of mailing, mailing lists, maps, etc are placed in the applicants file. This same information is sent to all the members of the Planning and Zoning Commission for their review prior to the hearing.

Note: All information pertaining to the zoning request is public record and is available for review upon request, as required by law.

At the hearing the chairman will open the hearing and have the Administrator read the legal notice and any written comments received for or against the zoning request.

The applicant will present his request to the Commission along with visuals showing the size and location of the proposal along with a narrative showing conformance with the Comprehensive Plan, and the effects, if any, this proposal would have on the neighborhood, and what the applicant will do to mitigate any adverse effects.

Any person attending the hearing may present their views or concerns with the proposal. Testimony is limited to five (5) minutes and must pertain to the matter at hand. Spokes persons for groups, and the applicant may have ten minutes. Other persons who have more than five minutes of testimony may submit written testimony to the Planning and Zoning office by the Monday, eight days before the meeting. This information will be copied and sent to the Commission members so that they have time to read it before the hearing.

Oral information may be submitted at this time, in the following order: first, those in favor of the proposal, then those who have information but are neutral, then those opposed to the proposal.

The applicant is then given the chance to rebut any opposing testimony.

After all testimony has been presented and/or heard, the hearing is closed and the Commission may receive no other information.

Note: A hearing or decision may be left open or continued for the purposes of obtaining information or reviewing current information received.

The Commission members at this time can discuss the matter and question the applicant before arriving at a decision. A motion is made to recommend to the County Commissioners to accept or deny the request. A second is made and a vote is taken, A majority vote of those members present determines the outcome.

Note: A motion may die for lack of a second, The chairman of the Commission does not vote unless there is a tie vote.

The recommendation is later presented to the County Commission by the Administrator with “findings of fact” or a “reasoned statement” explaining how they arrived at their recommendation.

The County Commission must hold a hearing on Rezones, or Ordinances Changes

The County Commission may hold a hearing on Variances, Special Use Permits, or Development Agreements

There is no provision for a County Commissioner hearing on Subdivisions, however the County Commission has the option to approve, or deny a plat, or send a plat back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for revision.

The Washington County Planning and Zoning Commission is a group of volunteer individuals who serve as an advisory board to the County Commissioners. They serve the overall public and make their decisions based on the best interests of the citizens of Washington County within the confines of the law.

For more information on hearings and planning, contact your local Planning and Zoning Department, 256 East Court Street, Weiser, Idaho 83672 (208) 414-3631

PLANNING & ZONING HOW TO TESTIFY AT A HEARING
From time to time you and your neighbors may become concerned enough about a proposed change in your neighborhood (Special Use, Variance, Zone change, or Ordinance or Comprehensive Plan change.) to speak out in public.All the decisions concerning land use, zoning, or change of laws are required to go through a public hearing. Notice of hearings is published in the newspaper.

When you have a concern about an issue it is important you exercise your opportunity. The opportunity of a hearing is provided for just that purpose. BUT… don’t waste your testimony. The following are some suggestions for making the most of your opportunity to get the attention of the Planning and Zoning Commission or County Commissioners at a public hearing.

REMEMBER YOUR OBJECTIVE

Your objective is to persuade the decision-makers to consider your side of the issue. It doesn’t help your cause to become angry or antagonistic to the group you are testifying before.

KNOW THE LAW

Copies of state and County laws are available for review in the Planning and Zoning office during the regular office hours.

Officials are not likely to make decisions in violation of county or state codes. No amount of passion, exhortation or pleading by citizens will accomplish this. (However laws can be changed). If you feel there is a bad law, organize and try to have it amended.

BE INFORMED

Get a copy of the plan being heard or the proposed ordinance changes. Interview people on the subject at hand and research other pertinent material. Plan your comments.

SPEAK TO THE POINT

Public officials have heard hundreds of people give testimony. They are grateful when the testimony is pertinent, well organized, and directly regards the matter at hand. Long stories, lectures of philosophy or abstract complaints about generalities are usually a poor use of time, since the immediate problem is for the decision-makers to choose a course of action to take on a specific question.

STATE YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS

Don’t leave the decision-makers wondering just what it was you wanted them to do, state your intentions clearly.

BE BOLD

Don’t be held back because you aren’t an engineer, technician, or even a very good writer, If you think that you have an idea worth considering, the chances are that it is.

IF YOU DON’T WISH TO SPEAK, WRITE

At most hearings, all testimony is reviewed by the decision making body. If written testimony is specific, to the point, and concise, it will be given just as much attention as oral testimony, By necessity, oral testimony has time limits so that more people can speak, but written testimony has no length limitation, it may be effective to summarize your testimony orally within the time limits set at the hearing and then submit the details in writing.

BE REASONABLE

Put yourself in the shoes of the decision-makers. They must balance all views, interests and proposals being made, and find the best course of serving the overall public good within the confines of the law. While it is your obligation to present your own interests, remember that you have legitimate competition! Be prepared occasionally to compromise.

For more information on hearings, contact your local Planning and Zoning Department, 256 East Court Street, Weiser, Idaho 83672 (208) 414- 3631