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Thread: Discuss… and let me know your thoughts

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Discuss… and let me know your thoughts

    It is short... but everyone in the office is going off about it.

    http://www.readingeagle.com/re/news/1141320.asp
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    PA Municipalities Planning Code gives the planning commission 30 days upon receipt to review the plans. If no comments are offered at the end of the 30 day window the submission is deemed approved.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    The question that immediately came to mind is:

    Why didn't the planning commission receive the staff report earlier?

    The delay in the staff report getting to the commission seems odd, considering the city's CD Director seems clearly behind the project.
    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"

  4. #4
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Our Act is similar, any plan of subdivision that we do not formally refuse is deemed approved if we have not responded within 6 weeks of receiving all required information. Building permits are similar too, not sure of the time line.

    30 days seems kind of short to be able to make a conscious decision. if meetings and deadlines fall wrong you could be screwed.

    The rationale for this is to prevent us bureacrats from killing projects we don't like, but are legal.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    The 30 day thing is ignored all the time. Usually, plans are submitted at a time which is mutually "doable" for both parties. However, just pointing out the obvious...if the developer wants to be a dick, there isn't much the PC can do if they haven't offered comments int he 30 day period.

    When I worked for the PC, we knew what projects were on the agenda for the PC meeting, so we had to have all comments off to the PC members a week before their meeting so they would have time to review it. Sometimes this meant flipping a project review in a day or so but that is how it goes. I feel alot of heat in this case falls on the Reading PC professional staff for not generating the comments quick enough.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Originally posted by Mike D.
    PA Municipalities Planning Code gives the planning commission 30 days upon receipt to review the plans. If no comments are offered at the end of the 30 day window the submission is deemed approved.
    For our planning commission meetings, the acceptance the plans at the meeting when they accept the agenda. Everything before is voluntary. The staff comments in question where from the county, the city planning staff is not in favor of this going in at this location. The CD director is not happy with us. But we have to be ethical.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Its odd, but not uncommon. We recently held a public hearing on a project and the plans were no where close to final. But the petitioner paid the fees and it had to be scheduled and held even though there was insufficient information to act.

    Hopefully your company wont walk becasue of it. What a terrible reason to lose a business and 160+ jobs!

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Originally posted by SGB
    The question that immediately came to mind is:

    Why didn't the planning commission receive the staff report earlier?

    The delay in the staff report getting to the commission seems odd, considering the city's CD Director seems clearly behind the project.
    We CD Directors are often put in a tight place by the needs of companies on one hand, and the regular review process on the other. It is not unusual for us to have to perform on very tight schedules because a company has specific timing needs. This has meant that I have had to request special meetings of my board and the common council, and to bring in plans or documents at the last minute. We have even approved incomplete plans, leaving some minor details subject to staff approval.

    Reading between the lines, it seems that there is more to the issue than simply the timing of submittals. Did I pick up that some people want to limit the building to under 120,000 square feet? That is one sure way to make sure they won't build in the city. It reminds me of the DNR person who once suggested that a factory could be built with parts of the building recessed. No. Factories are constructed around the systems to be located within them. Linear, automatied production lines several hundred feet long are not uncommon.

    A standard rule we use is to approximate a 1:5 ratio of building to land. A 120,000 square foot building would ideally have 13-14 acres of land, allowing it ample room to double in size and still have room for parking and truck maneuvering. I do have a lot of this size available, with all private and municipal infrastructure in place, and I can arrange to have the plans on the July 28th agenda with Common Council approval the following night, if you want to give the company my address.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    [i]
    A standard rule we use is to approximate a 1:5 ratio of building to land. A 120,000 square foot building would ideally have 13-14 acres of land, allowing it ample room to double in size and still have room for parking and truck maneuvering. [/B]
    Did I mention that this is on 7 acres?
    *and they need a road comming in, parking... and other requirements.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    More questions, really. Did the Commission have a Staff report or not? Had Staff made a recommendation? Were only comments from the County outstanding? How long ago was the item put on the agenda?

    Why is Staff opposed to the site?

    There is more to the story isn't there?

    gkm

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Originally posted by Michael Stumpf
    We CD Directors are often put in a tight place by the needs of companies on one hand, and the regular review process on the other.
    Very true. We require plans to be in 11 business days prior to a scheduled meeting in order to be "eligible" to be on the agenda. However, the Plan Commission has directed staff NOT to put something on the agenda for consideration until it has staff approval, conditional staff approval, or staff denial. (We get around the action deadlines like donk's by placing them on a special section of the agenda that id's them as items not meeting standards and considered for deferral, and action is taken without substantial discussion). They want to review the finished version along with their color renderings and material samples, and not the first draft.

    It leaves staff to tell petitioners that their chances of approval are only as good as their architect's skill in getting it done right the first time. Not very business friendly, but it leads to short night meetings!

  12. #12
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    We do the same thing, we'll place them on the agenda, pending reception of all information and comments from other departments. The other departments have no timeline for when the comments have to be supplied. Usually the motion is

    1) Approve pending DOT review and approval. We use this one if we "know" that the sight lines will be approved.
    2) Deny. Usually for other reasons, not used very often I tend to convince people not to apply unless the plan is going to be approved.
    3) Table pending comments. When it is "iffy"

    If Michael's site is not suitable, I know a Council that would pimp out their mothers for 160 jobs.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  13. #13
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Next Tuesday, there will be a special planning commission meeting... And they will hear the presentation at that time. This whole development is sketchy right from the get go. The two staff people who work with the planning commission have come out and told the CD director that this company is bad for this location, but has found several other locations in the city where it would work. The down fall is, this company has been promised many things and some of those things will not be so good. I will post the link next Wed. when they make a motion. I just hope that they do not let the 90 day clock will run out and it will be deemed approved by the Municipal Planning Code.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    It leaves staff to tell petitioners that their chances of approval are only as good as their architect's skill in getting it done right the first time. Not very business friendly, but it leads to short night meetings!
    Amen brother! I just had a senior housing facility come in with their plans. Staff went through three revisions, and each time I supplied a comprehensive list of what needed to be addressesd. The latest revision still had a HUGE list of things that were missing and/or incorrect. They needed to get on the July agenda because they were applying for state tax credits, and they needed approval. I did put it on the agenda, but let the PC know the situation and left it up to them. The developer ended up supplying a 4th revision the day of the meeting, and PC wasn't happy that they hadn't had time to review it.

    Different situation than in Reading, but still it was a pain in the butt.

    Also, I've noticed that a lot of these companies will say that they need approval right NOW, or they're not coming to town. 95% of them still come in. The above developer *needed* a variance in order to construct their facility. They got denied, and low and behold they still sent in plans reflecting the appropriate setbacks.

    Why is it bad for the location? Is it zoned appropriately? If so, and there is enough room for the building, parking, etc., how can it be denied?

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    Also, I've noticed that a lot of these companies will say that they need approval right NOW, or they're not coming to town. 95% of them still come in.
    In my expereince, those statements are usually made by project managers that were overly agressive and their job is now on the line if it falls behind the schedule their boss was presented.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Rem's avatar
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    Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    Also, I've noticed that a lot of these companies will say that they need approval right NOW, or they're not coming to town. 95% of them still come in.
    Or even more aggravating - you bypass internal processes to meet their deadline and then find there is some hitch at their end that meant there was never any urgency.

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