In a packed city hall on July 22, 2019, the Panning & Zoning and Plano City Council had a joint session. On the agenda was repealing and replacing the Plano Tomorrow Plan.
The meeting was supposed to start at 6:00 pm and last one hour. At the start of the meeting the City Council and P&Z recessed into executive session. They were there for 1 hour and 30 minutes. This really frustrated some people in the hall. Others could not wait for Council and P&Z to come back from behind closed doors, so they left. What could they possibly have been doing in there, and why couldn’t they do it in public? We will never know.
When the open meeting finally got started, P&Z members spoke first. Board member and former councilman David Downs strongly felt he did not have enough information to make a decision. Member Hilton Kong and the P&Z Chair felt the same way. They also wanted more time to study the issue. Honestly, I can’t blame them. They got a huge packet from city staff the Friday before the meeting. They do not know how repealing the Plano Tomorrow Plan would effect projects that are currently up for approval or under construction.
In the end, the P&Z unassumingly tabled the repeal and replacement of the Plano Tomorrow Plan until their next meeting on August 19th. The P&Z decision led the City Council to also table the repeal and replacement of the Plano Tomorrow Plan.
The August P&Z meeting will be after the court date on August 15th between the city and residents. That is where a judge will finally decide if the city secretary must present a citizen petition to city council. The petition asks the city council to put the Plano Tomorrow Plan up for a referendum vote. As one of the plaintiffs said at the joint meeting on July 24th during the public comments section, “The only thing our petition asks for is to put the Plano Tomorrow Plan up for a citizen vote. You can vote yes, or you can vote no.”
If the judge sides with the plaintiffs and orders the City Secretary to present the petition to council, what happens next? According to the Plano City Charter Sec. 7.03, when a petition for referendum is brought to council, “the city council shall immediately reconsider such ordinance or resolution and if it does not entirely repeal the same, shall submit it to popular vote.” So, council could repeal the Plano Tomorrow Plan. With the losing track record the city has had in court, Council and staff better be working on a temporary comprehensive plan to put up for a vote at the August 26th city council meeting. After a repeal, council and residents, can work together on amending the parts of the Plano Tomorrow Plan that 50% of the Plano voting residents have a problem with.
Many council members feel the Plano Tomorrow Plan has divided the city into two camps, those in favor of the plan and those against it. This divide was overwhelming in the last two city elections. Four people sit on council now because more than 50% of the voting residents want to keep Plano’s suburban feel. In this old dogs opinion, the city council should just repeal the Plano Tomorrow Plan. Another election will only lead to more division and cost more taxpayer money. The best thing to do is for the two camps to come together, compromise, and change the parts of the plan that are causing disagreement.
If you would like to watch the three hour joint session for yourself, you can at http://www.plano.gov/210/Plano-TV .
This is Plano’s Political Pit Bull signing off.