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Thread: Staff reports

  1. #1
         
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    Staff reports

    I am in the middle of getting ready for my Landmarks meeting next week and am writing up all the Staff Reports, all 25 of them
    This is actually a lighter agenda than I have had in the recent past. I am just wondering for those of you out there that do PZ or BOA (ZBA), or Architectural Review, or any other meeting I am forgetting: just out of curiosity, how many agenda items do you typically have? And do you write all of the staff reports on your own or do several planner work on them?

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    We have three different people who typically write the ZBA staff reports. A typical agenda for us will consist of two to seven appeals. One does not usually write more than two staff reports per meeting.

    Looking back in the city's history I see for many years the number of appeals averaged nearly a dozen/ meeting in the good ol' days (with a $10 application fee we all but begged people to appeal), but staff now charges $125 for most appeals and applies considerable pressure on applicants before submitting their apps to find conforming alternatives if at all possible.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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          Downtown's avatar
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    Ugh. I just finished the minutes from last night's planning board meeting, which I assume is like your staff report.

    We meet once a week, typically with 1-2 major items and 5-10 minor items. The staff that attended the meeting is responsible for typing the minutes.

    Or is a staff report the Department/Staff Recommendation to the Board regarding the various project?

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    Quote Originally posted by Downtown
    Ugh. I just finished the minutes from last night's planning board meeting, which I assume is like your staff report.

    We meet once a week, typically with 1-2 major items and 5-10 minor items. The staff that attended the meeting is responsible for typing the minutes.

    Or is a staff report the Department/Staff Recommendation to the Board regarding the various project?
    Our staff report is a recommondation to the Board/Commission. I am thankful I dont have to write the minutes, it would take me forever. I see that lots of people here in Cyburbia are respopnsible for minutes for thier meetings...thank goodness for support staff around here!!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Our town is pretty backwards I guess. We don't do staff reports. I never even knew what a staff report was until years after I worked here. (God forbid they mention something so practical in college.) I have some theories as to why we don't do them, but I won't get into it.

    I am amazed at the level of detail planners in other municipalities are required to write for the most mundane of applications. I am tempted to think that for most minor applications its a waste of time - how much can you say about the proposed Chile's sign? Of course I'm at a disadvantage because other employers expect you to have been whipping them out for years.

    Thankfully we do at least take minutes.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Our Planning Board will have no more than 7 application review for each of the two monthly meetings.

    Our Zoning Board of Appeals often has about 5 applications per meeting.

    We do staff notes for all.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  7. #7
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Planning and Development staffs four boards/councils: Subdivision and Development Appeal Board, Affordable Housing Advisory Board, Municipal Planning Commission and City Council. We usually have four items on the appeal board and planning commission, with no more than two reports per person typically. Planning reports tend to be about 3 or 4 pages each, while the appeal reports are usually only one page. So it's not too bad. Affordable housing often has discussion papers required, which can be time consuming.

    My worst experience with reports though is with Davis, CA. We had to answer every letter in the body of the staff report. I had a 100+ page staff report to Planning Commission and then Council on 4 unit infill subdivision. The text of the report was around 30 pages, with all of the letters and analysis attached. Insane! It's been better ever since...

  8. #8
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    For 90% of projects, our review consultant prepares a memo for the Planning Board, which staff will edit before the meeting.

    Otherwise, I prepare a brief memo on projects our consultant is not involved in.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  9. #9
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by NHPlanner
    For 90% of projects, our review consultant prepares a memo for the Planning Board, which staff will edit before the meeting.

    Otherwise, I prepare a brief memo on projects our consultant is not involved in.
    OMG - How you did outsourced you the ever project pull reviews? The this off?Horror!

    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    We have three planners, each with a seperate area of the city. Each planner reviews every project in there area. A staff report is done for every application that is on the agenda. We typically have about 15 items. For Board of Adjustment, we have 3-4 applciations per year. I handle all of those staff reports.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian SlaveToTheGrind's avatar
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    I have from 0-12 items on a agenda for Planning Commission. Thankfully, my PC apprvoves preliminary plats, industrial site plans, and final plats (with vacations) on a consent agenda so there is typically no discussion on these - approval with one motion!

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Salmissra's avatar
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    We do a basic staff report (called a 101) for every application, and it address mainly graphic and textual requriements. Our consent agenda is typically 100 - 150 items. Public Hearings (which I do) also require maps, legal notice, deed restriction review and, if necessary, legal dept. input. So that's several pages per each hearing item. Lately I've had 10 - 13 hearings per agenda. Variances have even more, and they also have specific staff writeups they do in addition to the 101. On top of those, there are Extensions of Approvals and Name Change requests on the agenda, but they don't get a 101.

    We have 1 planner that does just Public Hearings (me!), two planners that do variances, and everyone else (7 planners) split the consent agenda. If I have a real light load (less than 8 hearings) then I'm nice and will review a handful of consent items.

    Our department also supports the Tower Commission, but that's just one planner and usually only 1 or 2 items. We don't support a ZBA because we don't have zoning. Our meetings are videotaped, voice recorded and broadcast on the muni channel.
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  13. #13
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SGB
    OMG - How you did outsourced you the ever project pull reviews? The this off?Horror!

    Easy.....it was abvious that most of the unresolved issues at Planning Board meetings were engineering related.....so the consultant pulls all the comments together from our Design Review Committee into the memos (the applicants have to set up a review escrow account with the Town before any review happens. We pay our consultant and if needed our attorney out of this escrow account for project review)....a sample of one of the more "challenging" projects (warning....it's pretty long):

    MEMORANDUM


    To: Planning Board Date: January 5, 2005

    From: Planning Department, Public Works Department & CONSULTANT Re: Tax Map x Lot x
    Site Plan – Proposed Building XXX Drive & XXX Way


    XXX Engineering, Inc. submitted drawings and information for the above-referenced project. DRC and the Town’s engineering consultant, XXX Associates LLP reviewed the submitted plans and information, and review comments were forwarded to the Applicant’s engineer. The Applicant submitted revised plans and information and we offer the following comments:


    Checklist Items:

    1. There are no checklist items.


    Design Review Items:

    1. The Applicant has not provided parking lot landscaping in accordance with sections 3.11.e and 3.09 of the Site Plan Regulations. The Applicant is requesting a waiver to this requirement.

    2. The Applicant’s revised drainage report does not address the impacts (both pre- and post development) to the abutting properties in accordance with the regulations. Please note the predevelopment condition indicated one subcatchment and flow to the west. However, there are two separate abutting properties to the west and the individual impacts to each are not provided in the report. In addition, under the post development condition, flows will be directed to the southerly, easterly and westerly property lines of the site. The post development condition appears to indicate increases in runoff to the south and east will occur that does not comply with section 3.07 of the regulations (no increase in runoff). The Applicant should revise the analysis as necessary to address the impacts to each abutter. Please provide a summary table in the report that indicates the impacts to each individual abutter (both pre- and post development) to clarify how requirements of the regulations are achieved for this project.

    3. The Applicant should address the following relative to the revised drainage report:
    A. Post development reach 3 of the report (outlet structure 2 pipe-length of 57 feet) does not match the plan view and appears to be miss-labeled. Please review and revise to be consistent;
    B. Subcatchments 1009, 1007, and 1006 do not include the riprap shown within the subcatchment areas. Please review and revise to include these areas consistent with the plans. In addition, please clarify the label for subcatchment 1006, which appears obliterated by hatching.
    C. The limits of subcatchment 1004 delineated on the drainage area plan includes the driveway entrance from XXX Drive. However, the curbing, driveway high point, and grading for the driveway appear to indicate most of this runoff would drain toward the parking area and subcatchment 1001. Please review and revise to be representative and consistent with the proposed conditions.
    D. The predevelopment portion of the report notes a runoff summary to Pond 108 and Pond 103. However, the plans (both pre- and post development area plans) and post development analysis do not include any mention of the runoff summary to these ponds. Please clarify.
    E. The subcatchment areas (both pre- and post development) are based on using a hydrologic group “B” soil type. However, no information (such as a soil map and soil information for the representative soil type(s)) was provided in the report to substantiate this assumption. Please provide additional information to clarify how the hydrologic soil type was determined for the report.
    F. The erosion control measures of the report (section IX) indicate staging and stockpile areas for equipment and building materials will be specified. However, the plans (both the site plan set and the drainage area plans) do not specify these areas. Please clarify and label these areas on the plans consistent with the report for clarity.
    G. The length and inverts for Reach 1R – pipe outlet from structure 2) does not appear to be consistent with the plan information. Please review and revise to be consistent.
    H. Please review the areas of the ponds at the indicated elevations which appear to measure less than those indicated in the pond routing calculations and revise accordingly.
    I. Please verify the rainfall amount for the 50-year storm (5.6 inches?) and revise accordingly.
    J. Please provide the separately submitted riprap calculations in the report.
    K. Please provide a summary table for each pipe and piping system in the report.
    L. Please provide a summary table for each swale and channel in the report.

    4. The Applicant is proposing to drain about half of the site runoff to a detention basin adjacent to XXX Drive which outlets on a riprap slope adjacent to the proposed building. The proposed contours at the pipe outlet and downstream appear to indicate the runoff from the pond outlet pipe would flow toward the dumpster pad and lower parking area. However, the drainage report indicates a 4-foot wide by 2-foot deep swale (reach 4R of the report) that does not appear to be represented on the plans. Please clarify the design intent in this area with proper grading and information and update the plans and drainage report as necessary to be consistent.

    5. The Applicant’s revised driveway sight distance plan and profiles do not include the southeasterly right of way along XXX Way for the southerly driveway. In addition, a portion the topographic information along the southerly sight line does not appear to extend to the sight line. Also, it appears tree clearing is necessary along the northerly sight line for the XXX Drive entrance that is not identified on the plans. We recommend the Applicant provide additional information to clarify the proper sight distance is provided in accordance with the regulations.

    6. The loading spaces indicated by the Applicant with this latest submittal are located wholly within the building. The egress to and from the loading areas may be difficult (requiring multiple movements) without encroaching on the parking spaces depending on the type and size of delivery truck. We recommend the Applicant verify the size of vehicle (SU-30, etc.) and the suitability of the site for the access to the designated loading areas.

    7. We recommend the Applicant provide the approval of the L.H.R.A. on the project drawings consistent with previous approvals (provide an approval block with appropriate signature). In addition, please provide the Owner’s signature on the site plan as typically required by the Town.

    8. The proposed roof drain to detention basin 2 does not appear to have the minimum three feet of cover per section 3.07.g. In addition, the pipe type, length and slope of both roof drains are not provided as required. The Applicant should revise the design as necessary to provide proper cover and information in accordance with the regulations.

    9. The Applicant is proposing a steep riprap embankment (2H:1V) adjacent to the paved travel way with a guardrail that extends to the property line. We recommend the Applicant provide a construction detail in the plan set of the proposed guardrail end section and a cross section detail which indicates the location (with dimensions) of the guardrail with respect to the proposed cape cod berm, edge of pavement, riprap slope and property line for proper construction.

    10. We recommend the Applicant provide additional spot elevations along the curbing of the lower (westerly) driveway and parking area to clarify the grading design. Please note, it appears a 318 contour would be necessary behind the curb shown north and near the dumpster pad in the vicinity of the 318 contour label that extends to the northerly pavement corner. The grading in the pavement corner does not appear to provide a proper shoulder backing for installation of the curbing and the indicated guardrail in this location. In addition, it appears the proposed 318 contour is missing along the westerly property line. Also, proposed contours appear missing from the Akira Way driveway entrance. We recommend the Applicant review and revise the grading design to be complete and meeting the approval of the Town.

    11. The Applicant‘s revised plan notes the existing guardrail located at the proposed XXX Way entrance is to be relocated. However, the plans do not address the limits of work (guardrail removal) and do not indicate the new location with proper taper and end section placement of the relocated guardrail as typically required by the Town. The Applicant shall provide additional information (including limits of removal and end section installation details, etc.) to clarify the work associated with removing and resetting the guardrail meeting the approval of the Town.

    12. The Applicant should label the type of gas line pipe to the proposed building as required. In addition, please indicate the Owner’s name in the title block of sheet 6. Also, please provide a professional endorsement on sheet 4.

    13. We recommend the Applicant clarify which catch basin is 2 shown for catch basin 24 at the intersection of XXX Drive and XXX Way on the Existing Conditions Plan. (Please note the subdivision plan indicates a 15” pipe from a headwall should be there.) In addition, the plan reference indicates a guy wire is attached to the utility pole along XXX Way. Please clarify/label and correct the plan as necessary.

    14. The site plan indicates “172 L.F. of 15” ADS, S=0.005 ft/ft “ in the vicinity of the proposed sign at the Technology Drive entrance. However, there does not appear to be any pipe in this location. Please clarify.

    15. The landscape plan appears to indicate two trees along XXX Way may be placed at the right of way. We recommend the Applicant relocate the trees outside the right of way.

    16. We recommend the Applicant revise the details to include and/or address the following:
    A. The revised typical permanent pavement repair detail on sheet 9 appears to indicate a layer between the cross hatched pavement and 6” crushed gravel which does not comply with the Town’s typical section and is not consistent with the typical pavement section on sheet 8. Please clarify.
    B. The revised typical parking stall detail indicates an 18-foot minimum parking depth, which does not comply with the Town’s Zoning Ordinance (20-foot minimum). Please update to be consistent with the plans and regulations.
    C. Please provide typical sewer construction notes as required by the regulations in the plan set.
    D. Please note a polyethylene liner is to be installed in the catch basin detail and reference the polyethylene liner detail in the plan set for proper construction.

    17. We recommend the Applicant address the DRC comments as follows:
    A. Please verify the comments of the Sewer Division have been adequately addressed.
    B. The Applicant shall provide a signed copy of the traffic report for the Planning Department’s file.

    18. The Applicant shall dimension the location and size and clarify illumination of all signs on the plans per section 2303.A of the Zoning Regulations, which was recently enacted by the Town Council on November 8, 2004.

    19. We recommend the Applicant verify the location and size of the easterly parking spaces adjacent to the covered walkway meets the approval of the Building Department and Zoning Officer.


    Board Action Items:

    1. The Applicant is requesting two waivers to the Site Plan Regulations as noted in his letter dated December 9, 2004.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I am the one that does the outsourced planning reviews for several communities. Each item typically has a 1-3 page report and recommendation. We have about 6 items every two weeks for each community so yeah, I write a ton of these.

  15. #15
         
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet
    I am the one that does the outsourced planning reviews for several communities. Each item typically has a 1-3 page report and recommendation. We have about 6 items every two weeks for each community so yeah, I write a ton of these.
    Ya know that sounds like it might be a good job opportunity for me, writing staff reports for various communities in the area. I mean at this rate this is all I am doing here anymore. 30-40 cases each month, several are architectural related, sign related and site plan related. Sure would be nice to clock hourly for these things...I just have to work on them till they are done, no matter how long it takes

  16. #16
    Formal staff reports for zone changes, pudds, variances and special exceptions (at bza); oral staff reports for subdivision (primary and final), special exception (pc review) and site plans. All staff reports done in house, in a table format to standardize comment and eliminate the need for new commentary as much as possible.

    Typical case load is 12-15 at pc and 9-12 at bza. Meet once a month.

    Last night we spent 3.5 hours on a lone primary plat and took no action. I'm not a happy camper today.
    No longer for better. No longer for worse. And certainly not for lunch.

  17. #17
    For our Landmarks, Housing Authority, Plan Commission, etc meetings we do not usually prepare formal staff reports. We have a staff of 2, with 1/2 a support person. Normally, we barely have time to review submitted plans/items, much less write a detailed staff report. Our staff reports are given orally at the meeting, taken off the notes (scribbles) we made while reviewing the project(s). The number of agenda items vary from 3 to 15. We usually only have 1-2 Board of Appeals meeting a year, with one item on the agenda. This might have something to do with our $225 application fee.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jaxspra
    ... just out of curiosity, how many agenda items do you typically have? And do you write all of the staff reports on your own or do several planner work on them?
    I write staff reports for the following groups. It's just me on my little lonesome (I do minutes, agenda, legal notices, packets, action letters, blah, blah, blah).

    City Commission - 4 times a month - approx 2 items
    Planning Commission - monthly - approx. 3 items
    Economic Development Council - monthly - approx. 2 items
    Heritage Commission - monthly - approx. 3 items
    Board of Zoning Appeals - as needed (3 times a year) - usually 1 item
    Downtown Revitalization Committee - monthly - approx. 1 item
    Airport Advisory Committee - as needed (3 to 4 times a year) - usually 1 item

    Plus I attend as needed, Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, County Planning, County Commission and any other groups that invites me (other cities, counties, regional development groups, etc.....).
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  19. #19
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    2 page report on major items, more if hotly contested. minor items often lumped into one memo. In my first job, the director had us explain the planning and zoning theories behind each case...so glad he was finally fired.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    In my past 2 jobs the work load has varied greatly, from no applications for a month or two to upwards of 15 applications at teh same meeting. Both met monthly, plus I also had local council meetings that would sometimes have upto 5 items on them. Try having to use 19 different Zoning By-laws, Official Plans and Secondary plans for three municipalities and the county with a person making changes to your staff reports without discussing them and you know why I left my most recent employer.

    As for stupid staff reports, how about regularily having to write 5-8 pages for minor lot line adjustments.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  21. #21
         
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    Quote Originally posted by Budgie
    I write staff reports for the following groups. It's just me on my little lonesome (I do minutes, agenda, legal notices, packets, action letters, blah, blah, blah).

    City Commission - 4 times a month - approx 2 items
    Planning Commission - monthly - approx. 3 items
    Economic Development Council - monthly - approx. 2 items
    Heritage Commission - monthly - approx. 3 items
    Board of Zoning Appeals - as needed (3 times a year) - usually 1 item
    Downtown Revitalization Committee - monthly - approx. 1 item
    Airport Advisory Committee - as needed (3 to 4 times a year) - usually 1 item

    Plus I attend as needed, Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, County Planning, County Commission and any other groups that invites me (other cities, counties, regional development groups, etc.....).
    Geez...whats the pop in your area?? When I worked in Washington, MO (pop approx 12,000) I did all those things too. Around here it is 65,000 and there are 3 of us so I dont have to do all of those boards anymore. I i at one time have PZ, BOA and HLPARB (architectural review) but it has gotten so busy, there was no way I could keep them all. I now have HLPARB, which reviews any exterior changes to any structure within any of the 7 historic districts, and several other boards.
    You must be swamped out there!! How do you ever find time to hang around Cyburbia

    Quote Originally posted by donk
    As for stupid staff reports, how about regularily having to write 5-8 pages for minor lot line adjustments.
    It was like that in a previous community I worked, here we call them Boundary Adjustments and they are done in house, no board review....much nicer

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jaxspra
    Geez...whats the pop in your area??
    That's the really weird thing. Here's our historic population.

    Year Number Change
    1880 2,360
    1890 3,547 1,187
    1900 3,507 -40
    1910 4,118 611
    1920 4,895 777
    1930 5,658 763
    1940 5,671 13
    1950 5,775 104
    1960 6,746 971
    1970 6,661 -85
    1980 6,572 -89
    1990 6,242 -330
    2000 6,543 301

    So we have been stable in total population since 1960. Yet there are changes going on and always have been. We are located approximately 22 miles from two larger population centers (each has a Wal*Mart). Annual housing starts rarely top 15 and we demo about 2 homes a year. This community has exhibited a level of sustainability that is very unusual (IMO). It would make a great case study.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  23. #23
         
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    Quote Originally posted by Budgie
    That's the really weird thing. Here's our historic population.

    Year Number Change
    1880 2,360
    1890 3,547 1,187
    1900 3,507 -40
    1910 4,118 611
    1920 4,895 777
    1930 5,658 763
    1940 5,671 13
    1950 5,775 104
    1960 6,746 971
    1970 6,661 -85
    1980 6,572 -89
    1990 6,242 -330
    2000 6,543 301

    So we have been stable in total population since 1960. Yet there are changes going on and always have been. We are located approximately 22 miles from two larger population centers (each has a Wal*Mart). Annual housing starts rarely top 15 and we demo about 2 homes a year. This community has exhibited a level of sustainability that is very unusual (IMO). It would make a great case study.
    That would make an interesting study, anything here within 22 miles of the St. Louiis region is booming with growth anf for the most part any area within 22 miles of a more "rural" area will most likely have a growth spurt shorlty. I can't think of any areas around here that have sustained population like that for forty years, unless it is in the middle of the region. Annual housing?? I couldnt tell you how many homes are built here a year off the top of my head, we dont even review residential structures, only the proposed subdivision/plan. I do miss working in a smaller town. Granted I was just as busy but much more in touch with all things going on, not just one area.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jaxspra
    It was like that in a previous community I worked, here we call them Boundary Adjustments and they are done in house, no board review....much nicer
    Same with my last place of employment. If it met the criteria established by the By-laws no review by the Commission. While here, even though the committee had the legal authority to delgate this task to staff the refused to. One more nail in their coffin. how do they expect to ever do any "planning" when the systems they have in place force people to spend time "administering". Glad I'm out of there.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  25. #25
         
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    Same with my last place of employment. If it met the criteria established by the By-laws no review by the Commission. While here, even though the committee had the legal authority to delgate this task to staff the refused to. One more nail in their coffin. how do they expect to ever do any "planning" when the systems they have in place force people to spend time "administering". Glad I'm out of there.
    Starting to get a lot like that here....any exterior change to anything in the city goes to pz anymore. I am talking a new door (slight relocation) at walgreens. so we spend lots of time writing reports for them to read over and make a decision (usually our recommendation) rather than spending our time doing anything useful. Ahhhh the joys of red tape

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