MERCED — The county's future goes back to the drawing board.
At a joint meeting Tuesday, the Merced County Board of Supervisors and the county planning commission postponed a vote that would have decided how the county will grow for the next two decades.
The two boards were scheduled to choose one of two options that would have updated the county's general plan, a policy document that will guide land use and development until 2030.
The Merced County general plan update eventually will be a 20-year plan for county policies on agricultural preservation, land use and development, circulation and transit systems, environmental resource protection, economic development, housing, public infrastructure, public safety and noise.
In February, the board reviewed four plans that would set broad policy decisions on land use and development, but rejected them all.
On Tuesday, some board members showed a preference for one of the two new alternatives, but each said they wanted more time to review plans before making a final decision.
The first new alternative emphasized city-centered growth with an emphasis on building new towns. Under this plan, called Alternative D in planning documents, 23 percent of growth is expected in new towns and 60 percent of new residents would call existing cities home.
The second plan, Alternative E, takes the opposite tack. Fifteen percent of growth would be expected in already approved, master-planned new towns, while cities would absorb 72 percent of new growth. Alternative E emphasizes resource protection, infrastructure availability and increased residential density in established population centers.
Supervisors Jerry O'Banion and Hub Walsh asked the county's consultant to provide more information on each of the plans before they could make a decision.
The consultant, Jim Harnish, said he would provide more directly comparable information by Thanksgiving.
A new vote is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 8, county spokeswoman Katie Albertson said.