Zoning Practice — September 2008

Ask the Author

Here are reader questions answered by Lora Lucero, AICP, author of the August 2008 Zoning Practice article "The Consistency Doctrine: Merging Intentions with Actions."

Question from Brad Mueller, Weld County, Colorado:

We are in the process of updating our comprehensive plan, and we are actually proposing goals and policies that will be inconsistent with our zoning/subdivision, as a mechanism to make changes in the zoning/subdivision. In this case, the idea is that we won't ever make paradigm shifts in the zoning/subdivision unless it is first in the comprehensive plan. The implementation strategies in the plan will then subsequently close the loop.

So in this case, how is inconsistency bad? We see it as the catalyst for change. We know that until the zoning/subdivision is revised, that those laws prevail over the goals and policies of the plan, but having that competing idea in the updated comprehensive plan will precipitate the hoped-for changes.

Thanks for any perspective you have on this idea.

Answer from author Lora Lucero:

I concur with your assessment that an inconsistency deliberately created between the plan's updated goals and the old regulations may be one way of stimulating the changes you hope to make in the regulations. But I would be cautious and also include a goal or policy that explicitly spells out the hoped for timeframe when the regulations will be updated.

In my experience, it's too easy for elected and appointed officials to create lofty goals and policies ... but fall short in updating the pertinent regulations to be consistent with the goals and policies. That second step is where the rubber meets the road! Just be sure your community doesn't do step one without clear expectations for following through with step two.