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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Planning Board begins evaluating citizen input on new draft permit rules

By The Star Staff

Puerto Rico Planning Board Chairman Julio Lassús Ruiz announced Wednesday that, after an extensive process of citizen participation, the agency’s staff began the evaluation and analysis of the comments received on the draft of the new Joint Regulations for the Issuance of Permits Related to Development, Land Use and Business Operation.

Lassús Ruiz said he was very satisfied with the citizen response, which reached the record number of 1,676 comments.

“The agency made extraordinary efforts to communicate the availability of the document to be evaluated by the public,” he said. “Never before has the agency exceeded what is required by law in terms of notifications, notices of public hearings, number of views, dissemination of videos of those hearings, and in such a broad educational campaign on the content of the Regulation, as well as an emphatic call for citizen participation. The number of comments received demonstrates the broad scope of all the initiatives.”

The document, which was made public on Oct. 28 of last year, was available for scrutiny by professionals, interest groups and citizens in general for a period exceeding 110 days and in which 22 public hearings were held. Originally, the participation period was supposed to end on Jan. 20, but the Planning Board extended the term until Feb. 21.

The Planning Board has the mandate through Law 161-2009 to draft, evaluate and implement a regulation that integrates and gives coherence to the permitting processes, their regulation and interaction with economic development policies, as well to balance the regulation with planning associated with conservation and protection of resources.

Lassús Ruiz confirmed that 167 people participated in public hearings on the draft regulations, of which 39 presented papers. Meanwhile, of the 1,676 comments, 1,602 were submitted by citizens, including 84 organizations, 10 by concerned agencies, 13 by municipalities and 51 that were received after the deadline. The comments were received overwhelmingly via email, while just over 200 were received through an online RC portal and others were received through regular mail or delivered personally to the agency.

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