Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Improving the public approvals process

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    new york
    Posts
    71

    Improving the public approvals process

    I'm seeking some ideas on how the public approvals process can be improved for developers in the US. For example, projects (especially large scale mixed use) can often be bogged down through the public participation process, whether it's through prolonged periods of CAC review meetings, general contentiousness from the public, and negotiating with the local authorities.

    One key difference I have noticed between the US and the UK for example is that in the latter, developers often seek the route of having as much pre-planning discussions with the public and especially the local authorities BEFORE the submission of the Planning Application. So that when the local authority receives it, they pretty much know what to expect and most of the time (including EIA results), the application would be written based on what was informally agreed.

    However, in the US, developer issues the Project Notification Form (granted, there is some level of community and planning discussions prior), then the authority issues a Scoping Determination and there is always a public comment period. Based on this, the developer may file a NPC (Notification of Project Change) and then the whole scoping and comment process basically starts again. I know the authority can have the option to waive further review but what if it's a pretty substantial change based on community feedback? Just seems to drag out the public approvals process unnecessarily.....

    So I thought maybe one suggestion would be to encourage more of the pre-planning discussions....Also, streamlining of the citizen review process may be another....What do you guys think about developer partnering up with a Non-Profit or a CDC in a development? Can the approvals process be expedited?

    Any suggestions or thoughts would be much appreciated.....

  2. #2
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Land of Confusion
    Posts
    3,740
    I'm confused, are you referring to a particular state or locality in the U.S.? Obviously everywhere is different.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    new york
    Posts
    71
    I was referring to Boston Massachusetts, but conceptually, the public approvals process should conceptually be pretty similar throughout major cities in the US.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    Metro Detroit
    Posts
    6,419
    Quote Originally posted by hl248 View post
    I was referring to Boston Massachusetts, but conceptually, the public approvals process should conceptually be pretty similar throughout major cities in the US.
    No......it's not.

    We can talk all day about general concepts of streamlining development review, but it seems you have a very specific locale in mind. Even in large US cities, things vary.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    new york
    Posts
    71
    Thanks Btrage....I thought it was but I have only practiced as a planner in the UK.

    Can you perhaps shed some light in general on how you would improve the development review process? Any ideas would be great.....particularly on how to shorten the public approvals / community input aspect.....

  6. #6
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Staff meeting
    Posts
    8,188
    Come to my northwest suburb of Chicago, because you would love our process.

    We have many preliminary discussions with petitioners regarding the scope and details of the individual development project. And depending on the context and size of a project, we ask them to perform a neighborhood meeting.

    Once the concept (which doesn't require fully engineered plans) is finalized and all development code allowances are determined, then we direct them to submit a formal application for development review. They submit a series of information (ownership details, plans, maps, etc) and we have as many staff reviews of the plans for compliance with the various development requirements (building code, engineering, zoning, health, etc.). Once the plans are at a "final" stage in staff review, we send it to the Plan Commission public hearing, which for most projects involves only one hearing date. In that hearing, there is opportunity for public comment and the Plan Commissioners question staff and the petitioner(s) as necessary.

    For the largest projects, a Planned Unit Development is part of the review, which requires final engineered plans before we can even go to Plan Commission public hearing. But then once it is approved (at usually no more than 1 or 2 hearing dates), the project is practically shovel ready.

    Therefore, our process is pretty heavily front loaded, with staff doing most of the plan review and revision prior to is ever going to public hearing. So, we don't have those scenarios where a project will have 3, 4, 5, 6 or more public hearing dates. That's just unnecessary for most types of development projects.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    new york
    Posts
    71
    Hey thanks Mendelman for the great input. Sounds pretty streamlined to me where you are.....

    What are your thoughts about making public participation more effective? Like for instance, in one large scale development project in Boston, apparently there were over 125 Citizen Advisory Comittee (CAC) meetings! The thing with that is that the delegates for the CAC are APPOINTED, not even elected by the community....I question how productive these meetings are and I guess what I am trying to figure out is how developers can try to abbreviate that process......

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 7
    Last post: 20 May 2012, 3:18 PM
  2. Playing & Improving Civilization II
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 3
    Last post: 04 Jul 2011, 8:01 AM
  3. Improving Qualifications
    Student Commons
    Replies: 9
    Last post: 13 Jun 2004, 9:45 AM
  4. Comp Plan: Public Process
    Make No Small Plans
    Replies: 4
    Last post: 22 Jan 2004, 11:13 PM
  5. Replies: 5
    Last post: 10 Apr 2002, 2:38 PM