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Expectations of Other Professionals...

prudence

Cyburbian
Messages
688
Points
20
This is a big pet peeve of mine, and has become today's office there....

I despise other professionals who do not do their own due diligence. I am talking about architects, engineers, surveyors, developers, and sign companies who do NOT read local Codes and Ordinances. Moreover, they are rarely familiar with State Statutes or Adminiatrative Codes that regulate their projects.

I work for a City, and government's responsibility is to regulate. Now, I will certainly explain Code and Ordinances if there are questions, but I will not do their work for them. If they haven't even tried to read the regulations, I will politely ask them to review the requirements and return to me with questions. They are PROFESSIONALS, and this is part of their responsibilty.

Anybody else fell this way. I may have oversimplified the post, but are my expectations too high?
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
"Our Zoning and Subdivision Regulations are available for just $5.00 each" is something we have to say alot. I understand local regulations are daunting for an average homeowner, but profressionals like you mentioned should know to look at the regulations. I wonder how much of it is them trying to see what they can get away with before the City takes notice.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
Must be going around today. Just shuffled someone, who knows better, out of my office to go get things that are needed for a building permit.

If a person who is a related professional comes to my office they pretty much get one free pass ( one meeting/consultation) to learn about how we do things, after that I expect and try to make them do what they are getting paid to do.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
Yeah, the same thing goes for me...

You know what I hate worse though? I hate it when you actually bother to do a detailed list of what is wrong with a project/submittal (especially if the submittal is grossly incomplete) and then they resubmit without actually changing much. It took almost a year for a local developer to get to the "application accepted" phase of review (meaning it's complete for processing purposes), because they wouldn't read and address the issues in the letters. Drives me insane!
 

NHPlanner

Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,890
Points
38
nerudite said:
Yeah, the same thing goes for me...

You know what I hate worse though? I hate it when you actually bother to do a detailed list of what is wrong with a project/submittal (especially if the submittal is grossly incomplete) and then they resubmit without actually changing much. It took almost a year for a local developer to get to the "application accepted" phase of review (meaning it's complete for processing purposes), because they wouldn't read and address the issues in the letters. Drives me insane!
We have an 18 page checklist in our regulations for exactly that purpose. If anything is missing on the checklist, the app is incomplete.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
NH Planner said
We have an 18 page checklist
And to think I have a problem receiving the 5 items (application form, deed, site plan, letter, money) we require for a site plan.

Your check list is longer then most of my applications.
 
Last edited:

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
19,474
Points
44
We have created a simple list of what all is needed, and a list of what is need on the site plan. I am sure that it has never been read, only because it is always something other than was we need. So don't feel bad, we all go though the same thing.
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
NHPlanner said:
I'm not surprised. :) Here it is for those that are interested:

Londonderry Subdivision Application Checklist
That looks like a standard checklist that is in every S/LD ordinance I've ever seen. I can speak for my company, the plans don't go out the door until the checklist is complete, all the checks, applications are in order, etc.

For us, its just easier to do what is asked. Hell we don't even ask for variances or waivers, we just follow the ordinances.....and we still get taken to court all the time by crazy neighbors :(
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
Points
25
Sign companies that do not read the sign code really get me fired up. It is available online for free or at the counter for a nominal copying fee. We have sign companies that have done 25-30 signs in the City and they still have the audacity to submit things that they know do not meet code. In some cases I think that the applicant tells them to apply and see what happens, but in most cases I think they are just plain lazy.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,843
Points
59
Drove me nuts at my old job. There were no large developers building in the area where I was working in; it was all long-established mom and pop firms. I had a detailed checklist of submittal requirements, and it was seldom followed; I'd get what I called "placemat drawings," incomplete application forms ("I don't know the size of the property ... "), and so on. Had to accept them, though.

Worse, I'd often get MORE than I was asking for, such as extremely detailed construction drawings for site plans, which included lots of details that weren't germaine to the application. Their defense ... "it's cheaper to submit building permit drawings than to have separate plans made up for P&Z review." Maybe, but when we ask for changes, you'll have to change the detailed plans, which will involve a lot more than changing simple site plans or elevation drawings.

Here's an example of an application checklist I wrote. Here's another example.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
Mike D. said:
For us, its just easier to do what is asked. Hell we don't even ask for variances or waivers, we just follow the ordinances...
Thats great, but to add to Prudence's rant, it seems the modus operandi for consulting engineers and surveyors in our area is:

1. Dont research. We work in too many communities to poosibly know all those different sets of rules. Time is money, man!
2. File the plat knowing it doesnt meet code. This is the easy route.
3. Wait for the staff review letter to detail its shortcomings.
4. Make the staff fixes.
 

NHPlanner

Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,890
Points
38
bturk said:
Thats great, but to add to Prudence's rant, it seems the modus operandi for consulting engineers and surveyors in our area is:

1. Dont research. We work in too many communities to poosibly know all those different sets of rules. Time is money, man!
2. File the plat knowing it doesnt meet code. This is the easy route.
3. Wait for the staff review letter to detail its shortcomings.
4. Make the staff fixes.
Even with the detailed checklist we use, 80% of our applications seem to come in the way bturk describes it. It's very frustrating, and ends up costing the applicants so much more because of our consultant engineer's reviews...
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
NHPlanner said:
We have an 18 page checklist in our regulations for exactly that purpose. If anything is missing on the checklist, the app is incomplete.
We have a checklist too. But under Provincial Law, you have to send them a letter of incompleteness and detail all the things you want for the app to be complete. When you have to do it four or five times for one app during the course of the year, because the architect/developer is too dense to read the stupid letter, it gets really, really, really annoying. After four letters and 10 months of asking for the same piece of information (a road right-of-way plan from the county demonstrating access to the proposed parcels for subdivision) the applicant kept telling everyone who would listen that planning was holding up the project. You can't have a parcel without access... says so right in Provincial Law. Doesn't matter... we're always at fault. :(
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
I will not defend the practice, however, often those professionals--at least in a zoning application or site plan submission--have an owner pressing them to get the application in and because of that some details are missed, by mistake or by design.

In the juristictions I am recently familiar, staff is pretty darn nit picky so no one gets an application accepted the first time through so there is this built in period you know you have to make changes.
 

NHPlanner

Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,890
Points
38
gkmo62u said:
I will not defend the practice, however, often those professionals--at least in a zoning application or site plan submission--have an owner pressing them to get the application in and because of that some details are missed, by mistake or by design.

In the juristictions I am recently familiar, staff is pretty darn nit picky so no one gets an application accepted the first time through so there is this built in period you know you have to make changes.
I can understand the applicant pressuring an engineer to submit plans, but I still find it annoying to make the same comments to the same engineer everytime a plan comes in regardless of the applicant....
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
nerudite said:
We have a checklist too. But under Provincial Law, you have to send them a letter of incompleteness and detail all the things you want for the app to be complete. When you have to do it four or five times for one app during the course of the year, because the architect/developer is too dense to read the stupid letter, it gets really, really, really annoying. After four letters and 10 months of asking for the same piece of information (a road right-of-way plan from the county demonstrating access to the proposed parcels for subdivision) the applicant kept telling everyone who would listen that planning was holding up the project. You can't have a parcel without access... says so right in Provincial Law. Doesn't matter... we're always at fault. :(
I would consider doing three things:

1) On the letter to the engineer/architect, specifically state that they have failed to meet the requirements which they have been given __ times, and cc the developer or employer. Let the person paying the bills put some pressure on them to perform.

2) Announce these projects at the Plan Board Meeting: so-and-so has submitted an incomplete application and has been informed that they need to do __ for it to be eligible for consideration. When they say you are holding things up, your Plan Board should turn on them and ask why they have not provided the required information.

3) After they fail to comply on the first revised submittal, wait until the last possible day (deadline) to send out your next response. The message is that if they are going to waste your time, they are going to be your lowest priority.

Just my thoughts.
 

prudence

Cyburbian
Messages
688
Points
20
Mike D. said:
I can speak for my company, the plans don't go out the door until the checklist is complete, all the checks, applications are in order, etc.

For us, its just easier to do what is asked. Hell we don't even ask for variances or waivers, we just follow the ordinances.....and we still get taken to court all the time by crazy neighbors :(
Mike, you can submit projects here any time.

I admit that I judge a petitioner based upon their attention to details...again, excluding the resident who just wants a shed. I hold professional to a different standard...hence the title "PROFESSIONALS."
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Most of the projects I work with (which tend to be the bigger ones) use architects and engineers with large practices. The information we get from them is usually pretty complete, or at least is so after we ask them once to provide the missing information. Incomplete applications generally comes from either small guys (maybe not even hiring professionals) who don't like to have to think through the details, or from developers trying to pull a fast one. I'm curious if anyone else sees the same, or who are the problem people?
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
30
I like Stumph's approach. I would add that when sending a letter of the deficiencies, don't detail them. For the worst consisten offenders, merely cite the code section numbers...make them look it up.

I could consider a conspiracy going on. The "professional" doesn't have everyting ready for the project, throws an incomplete submittal at us, and gets an extension of time while blaming the gov'mint.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
Michael Stumpf said:
Incomplete applications generally comes from either small guys (maybe not even hiring professionals) who don't like to have to think through the details, or from developers trying to pull a fast one. I'm curious if anyone else sees the same, or who are the problem people?
I think here it is more like the big firms throw in their applications just to say they are "in" to the clients, regardless of how crappy the plans are or how much info is missing. That way they can blame it on us and still keep their production level up. It was so bad with one firm last year that I ended up copying the owner on all the letters (after the first one) and attaching all iterations of asking for the same thing. Once I sent it to the owner plans started magically coming in more complete.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
I've never worked for a planning consulting firm, but I'm starting to think that some of them work the same way. Submit a half-ass plan and see what the city's response is.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,371
Points
29
Four ideas:

1) I tried preparing and publishing model applications for one client. It helped in that one engineering firm decided it would no longer work in that county (didn't want to have to take color photographs of the site!). Good riddance! Beyond that I am not sure how much such a model helps, but it might be worthwhile for some of you and it does take away the "I didn't know excuse.".

2) I think the places that have the most success are those where the planners' direction and culture is to help the mom and pop applicants figure it out. I know that can be time-consuming, but the trade-off is that you earn some influence on the project. If I were working for a jurisdiction that had a lot of small developers and that could afford a multi-person staff, I would definitely have a "design center" person who assisted with applications.

3) I always write codes in such a way that is unlawful for the city or county to accept an incomplete application. That doesn't stop them from doing it, but it gives citizens who are watching an automatic pleading if they want to pursue a matter. And lawsuits can be therapeutic!

4) My experience is that landscape architects are twice as likely to file a complete useful applications as engineers. Is that true in others' experience? My goal has always been (hopeless as it is) to get the western states to allow LA's to file plats, thus eliminating the engineers and surveyors, except as the technicians they are.
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
30
I never thought about it before, but Lee is right. LAs are meticulous. Usually very nice people too. Perhaps they have not learned how to arrogant.

Now, what about the pulbic engineer, whose percieved job is to "find something wrong with every application"? (Perhaps another thread is needed for this one.)
 

Habanero

Cyburbian
Messages
3,241
Points
27
Oh yeah, brought a plan to show in staff meeting today, not only didn't meet code- he's done work in the city before and knows it doesn't meet code. After our meeting yesterday I instructed him to buy our code again and go back and revise his plans.
I think they come in with something they know they can't get because what the really want will come forward in the second review and since it looks a little better than the first set they think they've fooled you into supporting crap.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
TexasPlanner said:
I think they come in with something they know they can't get because what the really want will come forward in the second review and since it looks a little better than the first set they think they've fooled you into supporting crap.
I sometimes wonder about that. The reality is that when somebody brings in a bad plan, it doesn't get approves and when it returns, the staff and Plan Board scrutinize it even more intently.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
Michael Stumpf said:
2) Announce these projects at the Plan Board Meeting: so-and-so has submitted an incomplete application and has been informed that they need to do __ for it to be eligible for consideration. When they say you are holding things up, your Plan Board should turn on them and ask why they have not provided the required information.
We did start this 2 years ago. It hasnt changed anything in terms of quality of submittals, but it does level our work load out. Out Plan Commission agendas are in 4 parts:

1. Old Business for consideration - things that have been deferred once they got the the floor, and have made resubmittals that staff beleives will satisfy the Commission.

2. Old Business for deferral - things that have been deferred once they got to the floor, and are either pending revisions, or staff did not like the revisions and holds them back for further revision (yes - the Commission gave us that power).

3. New Business - things that are getting first review at the Commission level, that staff believes will pass.

4. Pending Docket - things that have been submitted but dont meet minimum standards. They stay here and NEVER get addressed by the commission until they've been revised and moved to New Business.
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
Lee Nellis said:

My goal has always been (hopeless as it is) to get the western states to allow LA's to file plats, thus eliminating the engineers and surveyors, except as the technicians they are.
Here a LA can submit Landscape Plans nothing else. Hiw many LAs do you know that can get up in a courtroom or public hearing and speak on behalf of the capacity of the sewer system or storm sewer, the infiltration rates in the basins, etc. By allowing an LA to submit civil engineering plans you would be placing a huge responsibilty on their shoulders. I don't even think you could do that simply by saying in your ordinance that a registered LA should submit the plans. State licensing agencies set the criteria for who can sign plans...in every state I've ever worked at least.

To me that just seems like a huge lawsuit waiting to happen with the first basement that floods, puddle at an intersection that freezes and causes and accident, etc. You're going to have people saying that their house was designed by a tree hugger and not an engineer.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,371
Points
29
But of course there is the small town water treatment plant where the engineer ordered parts that wouldn't fit in the building he had also designed …

I did not suggest that LA's (or anyone else) do the engineering or surveying, nor did I even imply that. What I am saying is that the overall design of land development projects is, in my experience, always better when it is supervised by LA's (or even planners) than when it is done by engineers. Let the engineers engineer, size the pipes, valves, etc., Let the designers design.
 
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