The project to create a new Loveland Development Code is underway. The goals of the new code are to make the approval process as simple and efficient as possible, minimize the cost to prepare applications and provide effective citizen participation.
For example, under the new process developers would submit sketches for plats and site development plans for administrative approval. If an adjacent property owner appeals the staff’s decision, the Planning Commission would hold a hearing. Absent an appeal, the new procedure could reduce the review time for a subdivision plat by an average of two months and save the applicant significant up-front costs. Currently applicants pay for surveyed plats and detailed site development plans before the review process begins and then have to pay again to revise those documents after Planning Commission hearings lead to changes.
The staff is also working to create opportunities for public comment that do not unnecessarily increase the cost or time needed for an application to go through the process. The current process requires neighborhood meetings even when there is little interest in the project. Staff wants to establish threshold criteria which would be applied in determining whether a neighborhood meeting should be required. Current public notice requirements are broader than necessary, requiring developers to pay for mailed notices to property owners who wouldn’t be impacted by the development or have standing to appeal.
However, it is likely the Planning Commission and City Council may feel uncomfortable with the authority given to staff in the new code. They may feel their authority is diminished or that the public’s “participation” in the process is limited. The Planning Commission will have its first opportunity to weigh in on the proposed development review procedures next month. The entire project is not scheduled for completion until the fourth quarter of 2017.