Planner seeks to clarify process for subdivisions

August 01, 1994|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Sun Staff Writer

Over the past few years, Mount Airy town planner Teresa Bamberger has become very familiar with the flaws in the town's subdivision review process -- or lack of one.

In an attempt to make things easier for the town's Planning and Zoning Commission and developers, Ms. Bamberger has proposed changes to the subdivision review procedures. The proposals are under review by the commission.

"There have been a lot of problems with the clarity of what the town's subdivision process is in general," Ms. Bamberger said.

"The procedures aren't clearly spelled out in the existing subdivision regulations."

She has targeted two stages of the subdivision review for revision -- the concept plan stage and the preliminary plan stage.

She estimates the changes may cut the time it takes to complete the subdivision review by three or four months. The current process can take up to a year.

Currently, submission of a concept plan by a developer is an informal and optional part of the subdivision process. Neither Planning Commission members nor the developer now are bound by decisions.

Ms. Bamberger's proposal would place more importance on this stage by requiring a concept plan from the developer and more input from commissioners at the time of submission.

If more issues are decided at an earlier stage, the commission should be less likely to request changes, which can be costly to developers.

"In my opinion, the concept plan is almost the most important stage of the process," Ms. Bamberger said. "It's when you lay out ideas, roads, open space. . . . It's a basic design process, and I thought it was really getting overlooked."

Another change in Ms. Bamberger's proposal involves the preliminary stage of subdivision review.

Under current procedures, developers may submit their preliminary plan to the Planning Commission 30 days before its next hearing.

Frequently, Ms. Bamberger said, the plans are incomplete and commissioners order changes, resulting in "confrontational" hearings.

Her proposal would require developers to get necessary approvals from state, county and town agencies 15 days before submitting the preliminary plan to the Planning Commission.

Ms. Bamberger said Planning Commission members have discussed her proposals at workshops and agree on the changes.

At its next meeting Aug. 29, the commission may vote to recommend approval of the changes by the Town Council.

The council must schedule a hearing before taking action.

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