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Thread: Staff comments for plan commission reports

  1. #1

    Staff comments for plan commission reports

    For those of you who write Plan Commission or Council/Board staff reports (or have written them in the past) I would like to know how you get staff comments from other departments (Fire, Engineering, Public Works, Police, etc). Do you make them submit their comments in writing or do you meet as a staff and they just tell you their comments? Do you require a seperate report from each department?

    I am trying to improve on how we get comments (we have an informal meeting where I attempt to write down all comments) from each person involved in Plan review.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    We used to hold a Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting about 1-2 weeks prior to the CPC public hearing. The PAC consisted of reps from various city depts and such. This meeting was the particular time to solicit comments from them prior to the completion of the staff report and the public hearing.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  3. #3
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    We have informal 'Plan Review' meetings, but we also make the other depts submit comments in writing using specific forms that are part of the application packet

    See here for Plan Commission app

    Then we forward the comments to the petitioner.

    We never try to rely other's comment's to the petitioner, because it is often to complicated and intricate for the Planners to explain. IFor instance, if they have technical fire suppresion requirement questions we direct them to the Fire Dept's comments or to the person who made the comments.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  4. #4
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    We have a Design Review Committee. Applicants submit 12 copies of plans, and each DRC member gets a copy. Within 15 days, comments from the DRC are due back to me, and I send them along to the applicant. Engineering comments are sent seperately, from our review consultant.

    Sample:
    Attached Files Attached Files
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    It depends on what the application is.

    If its a major subdivisoin (5 or more lots) then THE APPLICANT has to get those comments BEFORE they submit to us, and they give the comments with their submittal. We then ship it out to any affected agencies after they submit and get written comments back.

    For anything else, we submit a memo to affected agencies a couple of days after the app has been submitted, and then they give us written comments.

    I was an intern at a city one time where there were weekly meetings between departments to talk about projects; that was also a good idea, but I think its best to get it in writing.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    For all commission level applications we send plans and comment sheets to departments and they are asked to respond by a certain date. That way we have their comments in writing. For big projects we arrange pre-application meetings with everyone.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plus Salmissra's avatar
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    At COH, the plans are routed electronically to the other departments/agencies as needed (depends on type and location). The comments are put in by that agency either electronically (typed in) or put on the drawing itself through a viewer application. It is the planners' responsibility to copy the comments over to the written report. Which, BTW, isn't really written - mostly it's checking off the appropriate box for text to magically appear in the window. There's very little room for comments that are not standard.
    "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

  8. #8
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    We have an old version of the IBM AS400 software on all development reviewers computers. Staff will compose their comment/conditions/analysis on their own Word .doc and enter it into the AS400. I do the same.

    When everyone is ready, I dig up a Planning Commission or City Council template and "compile" all departments' files into one Word .doc. Then it is all about correcting the margins, etc.

    Sounds easy but note the words "old version of...", which translates into "trouble".

    The ole' Cut and Paste works well too. Especially if not all departments' analysis is needed or if different analysis is needed in different places within the report.

    We use the same program for weekly development review staff reports too.
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  9. #9
         
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    We have the applicant supply 8 to 12 copies of the plans which we distrubute to different departments, divisions and outside agencies. Each reviewer provides written comment or e-mail back to the planner or staff engineer who then coordinates the comments for a report that goes back to the applicant. If additional discussion is needed then we have a face to face meeting between staff and the applicant. There is often two or three submittals before all comments are completely addressed. We rarely place these comments directly in a planning commission report unless its a recommendation for denial based on a technical issue like traffic.

  10. #10
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    We require other departments to email their comments or scan drawings and then email. I consolidate written comments into single form and attach any scanned images.

    I like the paper trail because if someone else screws up they have to own in rather than saying "well I said that in the room, weren't you paying attention?"

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Planning Fool's avatar
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    We have at least two Plan Review meetings (Depending on the number of issues/revisions there are) during the processing of application where staff from all the reviewing agencies attend and discuss any comments/issues/questions or recommendations they have regarding the application. All review agencies submit an initial memo addressing their review of the application prior to the first plan review meeting, and then a final memo prior to the second or final plan review meeting. We also include various review agency staff to attend meeting we have with the applicants/agents, so the can discuss their comments in person.

    It's pretty much a team review process for us. We work together with the various review agencies and incorporate their analysis into the staff report which Planning Staff prepares. We also have the appropriate review agency staff attend Planning Commission and Board hearings when there might be major issues or questions to address in their perspective areas.
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  12. #12

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    Like almost everyone else we convene a Project Review Committee roughly once a month, while talking informally with other departments in between. It is easy to have good communication with a staff this small (total employment in town gov is only 40) and all department heads within easy walking distance.

  13. #13
    I appreciate the input. We have a problem where things are getting missed in the review process and we don't require written comments so there is no paper trail. Some departments prefer to have their comments in writing so they do have proof that they made their concerns known but other departments strongly object to writtem comments, but are upset when something they brought up is missed.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    We send out requests for recommendations with a copy of the plans and ask for them back by a certain date. it works pretty well, but some agencies never return them, it is mostly to provide them with a heads up.

    We also hold pre development meetings with the applciant. Notes are taken by the admin assistant and each agency gives us their written comments then as well. The notes and comments are then sent to the applicant. Hopefully by the time they actually submit for preliminary review, they have addressed all of the comments made at the pre meeting.

  15. #15
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    We have a Development Review Team that I chair, comprised of Code, Fire, Police, all divisions of Public Works - we meet after the application deadline - with the applicant there

    then we harass them to file their written comments

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    The best examples I have seen are "Development Review Team" meetings, involving all affected departments (and outside agencies by invite). One staff member is assigned to take notes and draft the response, then each department head initials the draft before it goes into final form. That way the note taker isn't the guy to blame if something got missed - its still the dept. head.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    Where I use to work we required 12 copies of the plat to be turned in to us, then we'd mail those copies to all the departments that had to review it, and asked for comments to be turned in to us within three weeks. In the staff report I would put each department as a heading, and then summarize their comments, then compile all of their required conditions, and ours, in a list of conditions at the end of the report.

    We tried holding Subdivision Review Meetings, but the turnout was so bad.. most reviews said "I wrote you up something, so I won't be at the next subdivision review meeting." We just quit holding them.

  18. #18
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    We route copies of the submittal to the necessary internal and external agencies, who, by ordinance, have ten days to respond in writing.

    We also have our regular weekly Planning Dept staff meetings, onto which we have tacked a Development Review meeting (regularly consisting of Public Works, Building and Safety, Health, and often Parks and Recreation). This makes for some long meetings, though. We are chaniging the meeting format next month to move the Development Review meeting to every other week, which will correspond better with our deadlines, and waste less time. At these meetings, we generally hash out the larger issues, and may also discuss policy questions. Written comments will follow, and address any specific issues.

    We have certain staff from other departments at the hearings to explain/justify the revisions they request.

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