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Panel suggests changes to plan approval process

Washington Co. Commissioners to vote on recommendations

Washington Co. Commissioners to vote on recommendations

January 22, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

A committee of builders, developers and county employees submitted recommendations Tuesday to the Washington County Commissioners on how they think the county should improve its plan approval process.

The Plan Approval Process Committee has been meeting weekly since August 2007 to create a list of recommendations aimed at making the plan review process more efficient, according to Donald Bowman of The Bowman Group, who served as the committee's chairman.

"The quicker we can finish these projects and get them on the tax rolls, the greater the benefit to everyone," Bowman said.

Committee Vice Chairman Trey Alter, of Dyna Corporation, said delays in the plan review process can be blamed both on county departments and developers.

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"This is not a one-sided issue," said Alter, who noted that developers who submit incomplete plans are "part of the problem."

The committee made eight recommendations, the most significant of which involved creating uniform county construction and traffic standards for developers.

Clear and uniform standards

Alter said clear and uniform standards are needed to replace what he called the current "patchwork" of standards the county currently uses.

"Engineers and developers are submitting plans that aren't ready, and they don't know they're not ready," Alter said. "An updated book of standards would fix this."

Other recommendations included establishing time limits for county departments to approve plans and requiring all departments to use a public online program to track plans.

The committee also recommended that the county hire a traffic engineer to coordinate road improvements as development occurs in the future. Bowman said developers often pay to widen roads adjacent to their projects, but that nearby roads are overlooked.

"As a growing county, it would help to have someone looking at the big picture," Alter said. "Traffic will be a big component of growth over the next 20 years."

The 16-person committee included several developers and builders as well as County Commissioners President John F. Barr, County Public Works Director Joseph Kroboth, County Administrator Gregory B. Murray and County Planning Director Michael C. Thompson.

The county commissioners will review the committee's recommendations and vote on them in the future.

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