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Thread: Responsibility of the applicant

  1. #1
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Responsibility of the applicant

    Just a question on how your departmetn deals with applciants and the responsibility placed on them to provide informationin a timely manner.

    Here is the scenario, you are working through an application , you and the applicant are both aware that as the applications (OP and land division) wind through the process addtional information and revisons to the application will be required by both parties. As a representative of your municipality you ask the applicant for information, they don't respond. You do it by phone, by email and in writing, multiple times They still don't respond.

    What do you do?

    How much effort do you put into tracking them down?

    Is it reasonable to assume they are either not working on it or don't seem to care about the delay their inaction causes?

    How do you respond to politicians and sr managment grief over the applicant's lack of cooperation, when they blame you for being the problem in holding up the process?
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  2. #2
    Cyburbian IlliniPlanner's avatar
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    After trying to get in contact with them by calling at least twice, I will follow up with a certified letter informing them that their application is no longer being considered and should they wish to resume, they will have to start off from square one.

    I ALWAYS keep the politicians and senior management advised and up to date as to the status and what is happening, most of the time in writing (paper trail), so that I am not blamed for any failed projects. Keeping them advised by word of mouth has burned me in the past.
    One lot of redevelopment prevents a block of sprawl.

  3. #3
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Certified Return receipt mail is our tactic after failing to reach applicants via phone or e-mail.

    Everything is copied to the Department Director and to file.

    Fortunately, the Board here does not want me to spend eny "extra effort" trying to track down applicants. They place full responsibility on the applicant to provide complete information by the established deadlines....and they don't back down from them. Makes for a good working relationship with the Board.
    "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

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    The burden is definitely on the applicant here. The applicant's contanct information on the application forms is supposed to reflect where and how you can get a hold of them. If they can't be reached with the information they provided you that is their problem, as long as you've made reasonable effort.

  5. #5
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Agreed....It is the applicant's responsibility to take care of the information they are required to supply. I think a two phone calls and a certified letter would be sufficient notice from you.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Ditto to everything everyone else said.

    The important thing is the paper trail- show that you've made the effort, in writing, and then let the applicant have to explain themselves if they complain.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    We send out letters and let it sit for up to 3 months in our "NOT COMPLETE" file and if they don't respond, we send it to "file 13"(trash)!

  8. #8
    maudit anglais
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    How do you respond to politicians and sr managment grief over the applicant's lack of cooperation, when they blame you for being the problem in holding up the process?
    Document everything (log phone calls, emails, etc.) and keep your immediate superior informed about all attempts at contact.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    In Oregon we have to take final action on all applications, even if they are incomplete. We get up to 30 days to review for completeness. If we don't request additional materials within that time the application has to be considered complete. If we ask for more materials we give them a short deadline, and inform them that if they don't provide the requested materials we will act on the application, and probably deny it. If they want more time we reuire them to execute a waiver of the rule. Upon completeness we have 120 days to take final action, including all appeals (i.e. to the planning Commission and City Council for a staff decision, or to the City Council for a PC decision).

  10. #10
    Cyburbian mallen's avatar
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    It is entirely upon the applicant. I usually inform verbally and follow-up with a letter or email. I ALWAYS include a deadline and a statement saying that the application will be administratively held until it is received. It then sits there until I receive the information.

  11. #11
    I will call or e-mail once and if I hear no resonse I will send them a letter and CC the Alderman of the district.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  12. #12
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    The applicant needs to keep track of their own projects. If we try a few times, we just let the file sit. Or, if it is an incomplete file, we send it back (certified preferably).

    I also keep an in/out list in the file. Date we requested something, day we got it, date we reviewed it and sent comments etc. We had this come up recently for a big redevelopment project. The thing sat wit the consultants for months and then they submitted it and we commented within three days. When asked why it took so long, the consultant pointed fingers at us. Luckily the little in/out sheet covered our bums and showed that consultant was the inept one. With so much going on in the Province right now, it's a tactic that seems to be catching on unfortunately. Consultants are taking on too much and they have a lot disgruntled clients.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    The way it works in our office is either the file is active or it is tabled. If it is tabled then they need to get their crap together before they can go to any meetings (sprc, p/z, or city council). If there is no action on an app. for 90 days then they have to resubmit and pay a new fee. The key is to get all the information you need before scheduling any applications for hearings.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    The city I worked with this summer placed full responsibility on the applicant, but that is not to say we did not endeavour to track them down. Emails, phone messages, letters and eventually registered mail will all be used. Applications expire after some time... usually 18 months, if I recall. But this can still be messy (especially if they go ahead and finish a minor project without any inspections or anything more than applying for a permit, let alone being granted the permit).

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Planning Fool's avatar
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    As has already been mentioned, the responsibility is with the applicant. We will work with the applicant as much as we can, sending deadlines and comments via face to face meetings, phone, email, fax and letters. If the applicant is unresponsive to our comments and disregards our deadlines we either correspond with the Planning Commissioner for the District the subject property is in to see if the Commissioner is willing to make a motion to defer the public hearing to a later date or indefinitely, or we inform the applicant that will go forward and prepare a report recommending denial of the application, if the outstanding issues are denial issues.
    Prediction is difficult, especially about the future. :-o
    - Yogi Berra

  16. #16
    Cyburbian plankton's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis
    In Oregon.........
    What Otis said. (btw, you still got a roof on your house....??!! )

    Oregon's 120-day rule (for cities) and 150-day rule (for counties) for taking final action on land use applications are really (imho) great models to follow for processing applications. If I were ever to leave Oregon and go to another jurisdiction that didn't have clear rules on how to handle the situation presented by donk, I'd write a code just like Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 227.178 (for cities) and try to get the local governing body to adopt it. "If it's good enough for Oregon, it must be good enough for us....." The ORS's are on the Oregon.gov website.

  17. #17
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis
    In Oregon we have to take final action on all applications, even if they are incomplete. We get up to 30 days to review for completeness. If we don't request additional materials within that time the application has to be considered complete. If we ask for more materials we give them a short deadline, and inform them that if they don't provide the requested materials we will act on the application, and probably deny it. If they want more time we reuire them to execute a waiver of the rule. Upon completeness we have 120 days to take final action, including all appeals (i.e. to the planning Commission and City Council for a staff decision, or to the City Council for a PC decision).
    Similar in NH, where a formal application must be reviewed for completeness within 30 days, and then the Planning Board has 65 days to make a decision. (See: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/...676/676-4.htm).

    The key to that statute is "formal application." There are no timeframes on pre-application or conceptual review.
    "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

  18. #18
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    I have a slightly off-topic issue but it deals with the responsibility of the applicant so here it goes.....
    What is the responsibility of the municipality in assisting applicants with the process? I think it is one thing to explain zoning and public hearing information but often times the applicant wants to know what application he/she needs to apply for. Our position is that we will provide the applications and relevant code and it is really the applicants decision on how to proceed. Plus, if a project is denied then it is not so and so planner's fault for leading them in the wrong direction. Any thoughts on this?

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