"I continue to argue that we – the planning staff – needs to have input into these draft agreements before they go to the city commission." -Doug James, the city’s chief planner, explaining his concern about the process of finalizing the Pineapple Square agreements in an email sent to Planning Director Jane Robinson and City Manager Mike McNees earlier this week.
The above is from SRQ’s "Page 1 Daily e-newsletter".
At Wednesdays DRC meeting a number of proposals were reviewed prior to "sign-off" by various city departments. Several applicants were told they needed to change something or submit something, but the process would continue to the next stage when that was done. Others were told that after changes were made the applicant would have to return to the DRC sign-off meeting.
In the middle of the meeting Doug James walked down to the table and said that Pete Schneider and the City Auditor had met with department heads to be sure all understood the process for officially filed petitions. If they go through the DRC and there are changes to be made, it will help if, no matter how minor the changes, they go back through the Clerk with copies sent to the planning staffer in charge of the project who then will distribute copies to all DRC members for review before something goes to the Planning Board. The DRC agreed not to allow short cuts any more.
Many of the city’s practicing land use professionals were in city hall chambers at the time and heard this discussion. When they left the chambers, they gathered in the hall outside and animatedly expressed indignation and opposition to the apparent changes.
Too many changes in development proposals, changes at the last minute, no time to properly address changes - these conditions weigh heavily on our city planning staff. These professionals do not want to hinder the process, yet they understand that we have high standards and the standards must be upheld. Shortcuts lead to poor projects and ultimately to criticism.
The last couple years of explosive growth have been a challenge for all of us. The apparent new direction of the city commissioners and city staff, making sure that a complete and proper analysis has been completed prior to decision making, is a welcome change.