Development Review Processes



Formation of Board committee / task force to provide recommendations for improvement of development review processes



Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, Graham





February 01, 2006


ACTION:     X                         INFORMATION:   



  ACTION:                              INFORMATION:   



ATTACHMENTS:         Yes







At the January 11th work session, Mr. Boyd proposed the formation of a committee or task force to provide recommendations on improving development review processes.  The Land Use Review Committee (LURC) was mentioned as a comparable effort. Given the limited time available for discussion, the Board asked this be scheduled for a February 1st work session.  Staff was asked to provide background materials on LURC and outline issues to be discussed with creation of a task force.



Goal 2.1            Protect and/or preserve the County’s rural character

Goal 2.2            Develop and implement policies that address the county’s growth and urbanization while continuing to enhance the factors that contribute to the quality of life in the county.

Goal 4.1            Provide effective, responsive, and courteous service to our customers





A brief history of LURC is included as Attachment A to provide background on a previous effort at examining the County’s development review processes.  It is noted that LURC found the County was consistent with others in review times but there were opportunities for improvement.  To that end, staff believes the June 1, 2005 work session on process improvements provides additional background on current County processes with respect to other localities and has included it as Attachment B.   In particular, staff would refer the Board to the survey results attached to that report.     


Past Board Discussion Regarding Improvements to the Development Review Process

In 2004, Community Development was created by combining three departments. Those departments were Building Code and Zoning Services, Engineering and Public Works, and Planning and Community Development.  The concept of this reorganization was actually an initiative discussed in the LURC report and was designed to provide the community a single point of contact for all development related issues. 


On June 1, 2005, staff had a work session with the County Board regarding the status of the Community Development reorganization, presented typical review times in Albemarle County compared to other localities, and discussed possible strategy directions for further improvement.  From that work session, staff was asked to prepare materials for a second work session to discuss possible strategies related to the following:



On August 10, 2005, staff led a work session to discuss these possible strategies.  From that work session, staff received the following direction:



Beyond the strategies that were discussed with the Board, staff is currently working on a number of process improvements, which include:


Committee/Task Force Charge

In considering a committee, staff believes the most critical task is to be as clear as possible in establishing the expectations of the committee.  To assist the Board in this process, staff has attached a copy of a team establishment form routinely used by staff.  Staff will use this form for consideration of the issues.


Process Owners As this is a Board appointed committee, it is assumed the Board is the process owner. 


Problem To Be Addressed A number of issues have been discussed, but clarification regarding the primary problems the Board would like the committee to focus on will be important.  It would be helpful for the Board to discuss which of the following items are considered problems to be addressed or if there are other problems that should be reviewed:

·         Public Input Process?

·         Timeliness of Review?

·         Quality of Review?

·         Quality of Approved Plans?

·         Complexity of Review?

·         Thoroughness of Review?

·         Clarity of Expectations in Review?

·         Ease of the Review Process?

·         Efficiency of the Review Process?

·         Review processes in the Rural Areas –vs- Development Areas?

·         Others?


Goal as related to County’s Mission and Objectives -  Mr. Boyd presented three objectives: 1) Create neighborhoods that are pleasing to our residents; 2) Promote growth in the designated growth areas; and 3) Discourage growth in the rural areas.  As noted above in the Problem Addressed section, it is assumed the specific goal for this task force is related to improving development review processes.    


Membership Mr. Boyd recommended 2 Board members, 1 Planning Commissioner, 2 Community representatives, 2 Development representatives, the County Executive, and a representative from the Darden School.  Mention was made of adding a second Planning Commissioner and the desire to keep this committee small to improve effectiveness.


Specific Guidance, Limitations – No discussion was noted on this, with the exception of a six month limitation on the work of the committee.  In Mr. Boyd’s presentation, he indicated the effort should focus on how the Neighborhood Model product is created. It was not clear to staff if that meant the discussion would be limited to the legislative review of Neighborhood Model rezonings or if other issues would be included. 


Specific Guidance, Expected Resolution and Outcomes of the Committee’s efforts – Mr. Boyd’s presentation indicated the outcome would be a set of recommendations given to the Board in six months.  There was no discussion of other outcomes. In general terms, the expected outcome is to find opportunities to improve development processes.  In more specific terms, Mr. Boyd mentioned the following issues for consideration by this committee: Master Planning, Community involvement, Staff/Citizen/Developer interaction, Information sharing, Work flow, Timing, Standards and Technology.  This leads to a number of questions for the Board to consider:

·         What processes should the task force address?  At one point, staff believed the emphasis was on rezonings and special use permit reviews (ZMAs and SPs), but we are not certain this is the intent. For example, Mr. Boyd’s presentation mentioned changes in the master planning process.  The different review processes handled by Community Development are outlined in Attachment B, the June 1, 2004 Executive Summary on Process Improvements.    

·         Is the task force to focus on improvements within the existing processes, similar to LURC, or should it consider changes in existing policy?  For example, at previous work sessions this past summer, staff pointed out that Board policy now requires the review of 102 separate issues as part of the standard review of rezoning and special use permit proposals. Should the task force evaluate whether the list of issues considered with ZMAs and SPs as part of a legislative review be reduced? 

·         Is the task force to consider other staff priorities outside of the development review processes?  For example, in the work session on Community Development’s work plan, staff noted that development review competes for resources with other Board priorities.

·         Does the Board want each of the other items listed above from Mr. Boyd’s presentation to be considered in the review?  


Specific Guidance, Start and Completion Dates – As presented by Mr. Boyd, the task force would start in March and complete its work within six months, with biweekly meetings.   Assuming a meeting provides 1 hour of effective time, the task force would have 26 hours of committee time to become educated on the issues related to the processes considered, propose alternatives, develop recommendations, and finalize a report.    



In proceeding with the committee, a clear charge and desired outcomes will be important.  Not only will this assist the committee in its efforts, it will also help staff to provide whatever support is necessary.  While staff recognizes the proposal calls for assistance from the Darden School, understanding the current processes and Board policy will be important in the work of the committee.  Because of the complexity of the Board and Planning Commission’s current expectations for policy review and public process, staff will need to assist the committee through at least an understanding of current policy and process.  With the heavy development review workload currently facing staff and the aggressive schedule the Board has already established for other policy review, as outlined in the work plan, staff will need clear direction regarding the Board’s expectations. 


While the Board is clearly placing a priority on the review to be conducted by this committee, it will have an impact on current work priorities.  This will be the case both because of additional work resulting from the review by the committee and also because considerable effort is currently underway with other Board priorities that may also need to be considered by the committee.  During the Board’s previous discussion, Mr. Slutzky mentioned that he believed other work on the Rural Areas should follow a parallel track with the work of the Committee.  Staff will need to know if work on related items, such as the Mountain Overlay District Committee work, clustering and phasing should follow a different process than is currently in place.  In addition, work currently underway by the Planning Commission and staff regarding previous direction on process improvements may also be impacted.  Those efforts include reducing the Planning Commission’s role in ministerial reviews and a process that reduces the use of deferrals in review of rezonings and special use permits. Clarification regarding the charge and outcomes of the committee will be critical to avoid duplication and ensure that staff is focused on moving the strategic and work plans forward in an effective way.     



It is anticipated the task force will require staff resources to provide background materials and education on current processes, but the extent cannot be estimated until the charter of the task force is defined.   



Staff recommends that the Board clarify the charge, expectations and outcomes of the proposed committee using the outline provided and provide direction to staff on how work plan items should be addressed and prioritized in light of this new effort.   





Attachment A – History of LURC

Attachment B – June 6, 2005 Board Work Session on Process Improvements   

Attachment C – Team Establishment Form   

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