The San Juan Daily Star
Planning Board sets public hearings on permit regulations, urges broad participation
By The Star Staff
The Puerto Rico Planning Board on Thursday announced the schedule of public hearings for the adoption of new joint regulations for the issuance of permits related to development, land use and business operation.
The public hearings are an essential part of the participatory process that takes place prior to the approval and adoption of the aforementioned important planning and regulatory tool.
Planning Board Chairman Julio Lassús Ruiz stressed that there will be a longer period for the issuance of comments and a greater number of public hearing sessions in order to provide a participatory process prior to the promulgation of the new regulation.
“In total, we will be conducting 22 public hearings,” Lassús Ruiz said. “There will be 11 face-to-face hearings through different municipalities and 11 virtual hearings, all of which will be open to the public in general. It is an unprecedented number of hearings. The intention is that all professionals, interest groups and the general public can participate widely in this process so that we can have a robust and consensus regulatory tool. The joint regulations are an essential instrument for ensuring the protection of resources and promoting orderly and sustainable socio-economic development. In that sense, it is an issue that connects each and every one of us.”
The cycle of public hearings will begin on Nov. 29 and will end on Dec. 21. There will be face-to-face hearings in the following municipalities: San Juan, Fajardo, Ponce, Manatí, Arecibo, Gurabo, Humacao, Mayagüez, Cayey, Moca and Guayama. All will have their face-to-face and virtual hearings on the same day. The face-to-face hearings will begin at 10 a.m, while the virtual ones will begin at 1:30 p.m.
After the end of the round of public hearings, an additional period of comment will be granted until Jan. 20, 2023.
On Oct. 28, the Planning Board issued the first notice of disclosure of the draft of the new joint regulations and since then published the document for public review and consultation on its www.jp.pr.gov portal. The draft will continue to be available for citizen scrutiny and so that they can issue comments or even send papers regarding the regulations. In addition, the digital portal also contains a thematic summary for each of the 12 rules of the regulation and a section allowing for the automated and timely issuance of comments, according to the specific sections of the document, among other features.
“We have prepared a very complete digital space that not only allows consulting the entire draft regulation, but also issuing comments by specific areas, as well as data boards that reflect the participation methods, the calendar of all public hearings, a section to register to participate in virtual hearings, a repository to store the videos of the hearings, a glossary of terms, answers to frequently asked questions, a history of the various rules of procedure and a section to consult previous rules,” Lassús Ruiz added. “Everything the citizen needs to know about the joint rules can be found in one place. The portal allows us an important transparency exercise, while making it easier for us to provide the service of good guidance to citizens.”
The agency will consider as an official comment only those registered through the portal, those sent via email to email@example.com or those submitted in writing at the agency’s secretarial office, located at the Roberto Sánchez Vilella Government Center, Torre Norte, in Santurce.
The Planning Board chairman urged all professionals with an interest in the processes that are regulated through the regulations (planners, engineers, instructors, surveyors, environmentalists, lawyers, among others), as well as other citizens, to actively participate in the evaluation and comment process.