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Have any of your Communities or Counties adopted a "Conciliation" Process between the members of the community and developers formally into your Comprehensive Plans? My county is looking to do something like this and I would be thankful for any ideas. Thanks
We don't have a fromal process, but when something big is planned in an existing neighborhood, we strongly recommend that the developer first hold a meeting with the neighbors before submitting their plans to the city. That does not always happen, but when it does, the developer may address some concerns right at the start and the Plan Board feels a little more at ease with the project.
There are some legal issues involved in these meetings. Courts have consistently ruled that you can't delegate decision-making authority to the neighbors. It is possible to require neighborhood meetings without falling into that trap -- I am writing a code right now that does so -- but my observation is that a developer with any brains gets out on the street and talks to folks anyway. It is more important to require a pre-application process in which the staff can encourage the developer to talk to the neighbors or a neighborhood group!
I believe it is unnecessary and inappropriate to REQUIRE any such public-private contacts. So, as contained in a Comp Plan, the language should simply "strongly encourage" that an applicant meet with the "neighbors."
For what its worth, I work for a developer and inevitably, if one chooses NOT to meet with adjacent property owners, that fact will likely come back to haunt you as the citizens turn out in droves against you at the public hearing.
Its not always the case, but often reasonable concessions/incorporation of citizen ideas are easier to bring into development plans earlier in the process.
No developer wants to get to public hearing, have negative public opposition, then have the elected and appointed body defer a decision and direct you to meet with the public. Big Black Eye.
My city requires that developers hold a public open house (with staff in attendance as observers) for certain types of applications. In Alberta, between the Municipal Development Plan (Comp Plan/General Plan) adoption and a rezoning or subdivision, we have an intermediate planning stage known as the Area Structure Plan. This is the major planning stage for the nitty gritty details, such as road configuration, open space, specific land uses (densities, etc).
So whenever a new ASP is proposed or an amendment is proposed, the developer needs to have an open house. Same goes with Redevelopment Plans.
Otherwise, Rezoning, Subdivisions, Development Permits, and other applications do not need additional consultation.