Planners act on questions postponed from last meeting

by Mary Grow

Although only four of the six China Planning Board members were present at the Oct. 9 board meeting, they tackled multiple questions left undecided at their previous meeting because only three members were able to attend.

The longest discussion was over an essentially procedural issue: after the board reviews an application for a conditional use permit for a new business and votes that it meets all 15 criteria in China’s Land Use Ordinance, does the written document setting forth the reasons for the decision, known as findings of fact, need a second vote?

In April, according to board minutes Chairman Tom Miragliuolo cited, board members decided no second vote was needed. The codes officer would draft the document for the chairman’s review and signature.

In August, board member Ronald Breton, who had seconded the April motion not to require a second vote, moved a vote on a findings of fact document approving an application submitted at the previous meeting, reopening debate about whether two votes are needed.

The conclusion on Oct. 9 was that a second vote is not needed, because the written findings ought to accurately reproduce decisions already voted at the meeting, without change.

When there is no hurry about issuing the permit, the codes officer and chairman may share the written findings of fact with the rest of the board. If work is to start promptly, as with the causeway project at the head of China Lake approved in August, the findings of fact should be prepared and signed and circulated afterward for board members’ information.

In a related matter, board members unanimously settled another question: the 30-day period to appeal a conditional use permit begins when the project is approved as meeting ordinance requirements, not after the written supporting document is signed.

The third issue that has been pending since spring and on which some progress was made Oct. 9 is Codes Officer Paul Mitnik’s proposals for ordinance amendments. He divided them into two categories, fairly simple ones that should be presented to voters soon – for example, elimination of contradictions in the Land Use Ordinance – and more complex ones.

Board members approved all but one of the suggested simpler changes and asked Mitnik to draft proposed revisions.

The next China Planning Board meeting is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday evening, Oct. 23, if there is an application needing action or if Mitnik has had time to draft ordinance changes for review.


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