• Ongoing coronavirus / COVID-19 discussion: how is the pandemic affecting your community, workplace, and wellness? 🦠

    Working from home? So are we. Come join us! Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no social distancing.

Dealing with applicants and incomplete applications (was: Shut your pie hole!)

Habanero

Cyburbian
Messages
3,241
Points
27
Shut your pie hole!

I've got an applicant who thinks his project hung the moon- he doesn't want to observe the Area Plans, Code, or Architectural Guildelines. He doesn't want to submit a comprehensive sign package (yeah, it's an incomplete submittal at this time, but I'm being nice), he doesn't want to park it at the required ratio (he's about 8 spaces deficient on a medical office project), and he obviously doesn't understand what less than 50% means as I've told him to get his retention under 50% along his frontage and it's still well above that (not to mention square basins and our code states "natural and pleasing"). On top of all this at our last meeting he was borderline verbally abusive. So my question is this, what is the nicest way to tell a problem applicant to shut their pie hole? o:)
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
I got in trouble for this response in a similar situation, but it is much better than what i wanted to say.

"I've explained this to you X times, and yet you still don't want to cooperate or listen. You've pretty much used up all of my patience and sympathy for your plight. Don't bother coming back or asking me for anything until you've completed everything I need to process the application."

Guess who the client was?
 

SlaveToTheGrind

Cyburbian
Messages
1,446
Points
27
If we have applications like the one you have, we just tell them they will not be reviewed or sent to the Planning Commission until the submittal meets the code. They have to go through us and there is not much they can do to get by us.
 

Habanero

Cyburbian
Messages
3,241
Points
27
donk said:
I got in trouble for this response in a similar situation, but it is much better than what i wanted to say.

"I've explained this to you X times, and yet you still don't want to cooperate or listen. You've pretty much used up all of my patience and sympathy for your plight. Don't bother coming back or asking me for anything until you've completed everything I need to process the application."

Guess who the client was?
Chet? o:)
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
Habanero said:

I am sure that now that Chet has joined the Darkside he is a model citizen who files all forms on time and provides all required information.

If I told you who it was I'd invoke the wrath of giff57. ;)
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,549
Points
25
I would tell them that you will recommend tabling the item until all of the issues are addressed.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
If you were confident the Plan Board would agree, forward it with a recommendation to deny. Detail in the report all of the problems you noted and recommendations you provided, and how the applicant failed to follow instructions. We had a similar case where applicants tried to get one piece of their plan at a time passed. The site plan might be reviewed several times before bing passed and then they would submit a landscaping plan with changes to the site plan, hoping it would not be noticed. Finally we decided we had enough of being nice and accommodating. What these people do not realize is that 1) they are not going to get away with cheating the standards, 2) staff and the plan board will not back down, and 3) they are the ones adding months to the approval process. Bring us a good plan meeting the requirements and incorporating staff recommendations and it is likely to be approved in a single meeting.
 

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
5,443
Points
34
donk said:
I am sure that now that Chet has joined the Darkside he is a model citizen who files all forms on time and provides all required information.

If I told you who it was I'd invoke the wrath of giff57. ;)
So this is almost "Sam's Law"
 

PlannerGirl

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
6,377
Points
29
I kept very well documented letters, phone logs etc where I had told someone the rules and what they had to do. After a while they started screaming I was holding up the process-funny how the screaming stopped when i fwd my files to the owner of the land/the developer or the Council person incharge. We started posting all our comments online for the world to see and man that crap stop;d in a hurry.

But we had most of our problems from bad engineers and the developers quickly saw who not to hire. Problem developers were noticed by the public and politicians and again pressure shut down much of the bitching.

I have to admit I was in a lucky spot that they had to get the ok by my review board *all staff* before they could move on and we required they meet the code before they could be heard at that level.
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,945
Points
40
This situation is exactly why we have an extensive checklist as part of our applications. If confronted with this situation, I would recommend the applicant revise the design to meet the requirements of the ordinance and regulations, but they would certainly be able to present the application to the Planning Board for acceptance if they so choose.

Our Planning Board will reject as incomplete (ie. not accept jurisdiction over the project) if any of the checklist items are missing or not complied with.
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
This sounds like actual "work related" stuff. Is it going to be moved from th FAC to a Serious Planning Forum (SPF..tm)?
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,945
Points
40
Michele Zone said:
This sounds like actual "work related" stuff. Is it going to be moved from th FAC to a Serious Planning Forum (SPF..tm)?
Yep.
[mod hat]
Moved and retitled.
[/mod hat]
 

Habanero

Cyburbian
Messages
3,241
Points
27
NHPlanner said:
Yep.
[mod hat]
Moved and retitled.
[/mod hat]
HEY!! :-c

I guess it has become more work related. I would really just love to tell the applicant to "bring it" but since we don't often recommend denial, and even if we do it is usually continued to allow the appliant more time to work with Staff, I doubt it'll get that recommendation. They won't go forward without the sign pakage so he does have more time to fix the project. He actually stated he read the Area Plan to mean Staff has no authority over architectural guidelines, but then again, he reads most of our code wrong/doesn't "get it" (he reminds me of the jerk in Big that keeps saying that to be a jerk).

I always keep notes on everything. He asked I call to let him know the comments at the second submittal, wrote everything that was said, date, and time and now he wants to act like it never took place.
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
Sometimes, if you do your level best to let go of any upset and treat the person with real respect -- not superficial respect -- their attitude changes. Not always.

Most folks are a tad on the paranoid side and can be taken aback if you are genuinely understanding, patient, blah blah. Especially since you don't seem to think there is much chance of it being outright denied, it might help to make it as pleasant as possible. Then, if he continues to be a jerk, it is much easier to play hard ball and not look like The Bad Guy. o:)
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,369
Points
29
1) In writing codes, I always make it a violation for the staff to accept an incomplete application and for the jurisdiction to process it. This can, of course, be ignored, but it gives neighbors, local enviros, etc. an automatic route to court. And while there are occasionally some pretty unkind things said about NIMBY's in these forurms, there are times when they can help make the process work bettter.

2) I have also, although I dislike the bureaucratic nature of it, have started building in a formal step, with a time limit, for acceptance of an application (this does not apply to minor applications). Requiring a written determination of completeness within 10 days helps precipitate the issues.

3) As others have said, a checklist is a great tool.

4) FInally, a pre-application or sketch plan requirement can help with this issue (which plagues just about every one). I think there is a noticeable difference in quailty of results between jurisdictions that use a serious pre-app and those that don't.
 

solarstar

Cyburbian
Messages
207
Points
9
I like checklists, too, but some requirements have been glossed over by directors depending on the situation. When I have a particular whiny and uncooperative applicant, I have sent letters (copying the owner, contractor, their attorney, or anyone else who has a stake in the project) outlining the items that still aren't submitted and reviewing all of the times we've discussed them (in a nice way, of course! o:) ) It has worked well, especially when the owner is getting another story from the applicant. Some owners have called to make sure the letter is accurate, but usually I either receive the information shortly or find out another applicant has been hired instead. When it is just an individual, there's nothing else to do but document all of your contacts and put as much as possible in correspondence (certified, when necessary). I'd never get away with telling someone not to bother to come back until they have everything - no matter what a jerk they are. ("customer service" is my life) ;-)
 
Messages
12
Points
1
Been there, learned my lesson....

It never hurts to reference the Ordinance section that list what information is required as part of an application.
 

Habanero

Cyburbian
Messages
3,241
Points
27
That's all been done in this case. We have a fairly extensive pre-app procedue where everything was spelled out, checklists galore, and still he thinks his project goes above and beyond what we require. The comments have reiterated the same thing everytime, including the comments from the pre-app.

We'll see what comes of it, I think our Council will demand better architecture.
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
Habanero said:
I guess it has become more work related. I would really just love to tell the applicant to "bring it" but since we don't often recommend denial, and even if we do it is usually continued to allow the appliant more time to work with Staff, I doubt it'll get that recommendation.
Is there any kind of nice way to play the dumb, helpless female and make it clear that, sorry, your hands are tied and you have no authority to send this on without it meeting x, y, and z criteria? Is there any truth to taking such a position, if it is done carefully? (My negotiation and conflict management class recommended that if you run into an assinine jerk who thinks women are air-headed and helpless, the revenge for that is to play along --- and take him to the cleaners while he figures you are too stupid to be worth noticing. I think that might be a tactic worth trying, given your description on the person. o:) )
 

Tom R

Cyburbian
Messages
2,274
Points
25
a** h***s

I tell these types that if he/she proceeds and is denied, a reapplication will require all fees that apply to a new application.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
We do it like Lee Nellis-Formal completeness review, letter to applicant, letter requesting withdrawal of the project if there is no action to complete the application.

I got yelled at the other day for letting an incomplete application come in.
 
Messages
3,690
Points
27
Like NH, we also have a very extensive checklist. Any time an applicant submits a plan, it goes into our pile, and when it finally gets reviewed, say a week or so later, if it is incomplete, we'll just send them a comment letter with our comments and a list of the things they're missing. If someone gets big for their britches, we just say "I'm so sorry, but I absolutely cannot schedule your project until we have a complete application." Depending on who the applicant is, they're either told this flatly, or with the addendum "Take it up with the PD or Town Supervisor".
 
Top