The first point of my previous post was that many people expect a fast review of development applications of their municipal planners.
With the same perspective of that post I am providing the following list of ten key elements that I believe help create an effective, timely development review process:
1. Well designed application/review procedures and requirements that are focused on efficient communication between parties;
2. Well trained and professional planning staff to undertake and facilitate the process between applicants, the public, and town departments;
3. An open public process, which includes creating easily understood information about applications that is provided to the community/stakeholders in a timely manner (using tools such as social media, 3D modeling, and graphics where applicable);
4. A facilitative role/responsibility for staff that incorporates a pre-application/sketch plan phase to assist possible applicants in crafting well defined and completed proposal packages (with staff acting more as concierges than gatekeepers during this time). This includes face-to-face interaction between applicants and staff when possible;
5. Well thought-out processes, guidelines, and land use regulations that strategically drive new development toward fulfilling the community’s vision and policy direction of the Official Plan (and County/State direction as applicable) and other adopted policies;
6. Regulations that are clearly defined and easy to access and understand (by the applicants, citizens, and elected officials alike), and are more focused on desired outcomes than defining things that are not permitted;
7. A regulatory framework that is equitable, and balances all stakeholders’ interests with those of the community (this includes details such as only “requiring” things of applicants that are supported by adopted policies and codes, not based on personal preferences);
8. Regulations that are performance based as opposed to being prescriptive (where possible) to allow for flexibility and design creativity;
9. A Town Council with a respectful and effective relationship between professional planning staff; and,
10. Cooperative and professional applicants that provide the necessary information for a complete and thorough review of their proposals.