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  Silence Will Give Consent on Proposed Planning Changes
January 28, 2005
Tomorrow, January 29 could be the beginning of a fundamental change in the way Richmond provides discretionary review of development projects. There will be a workshop in the City Council Chamber from 9:00 AM until 12:00 noon wherein the Planning Department will present procedures intended to reduce the time required to process development projects.
Some of these proposals may constitute best practices for simply managing the discretionary review and permit process, and that may be a good thing. Based on a discussion that took place in last Tuesday's City Council meeting, it appears that some of the changes are intended to "get control" of rogue Design Review Board members and Planning Commissioners who are perceived to be impeding the progress of projects the City Council wants approved in order to generate funds needed to keep the City solvent.
In last Tuesday's City Council meeting, the Toll Brothers Terminal 1 project was given as an example of a project that needed to be swiftly moved through the process so that the City could consummate a $13 million sale, the funds from which are needed to balance the budget. Reference was made to Design Review Board members and Planning Commissioners who are too independent and measures could be taken to correct that oversight.
This will be the fourth such workshop. The previous three were held during weekday mornings and were attended exclusively by City staff, a few Design Review Board members and Planning Commissioners, a few City Council members and representatives of the development community. The public was largely absent.
If community members interested in the development review process fail to attend this workshop and get involved in this discussion, the next step will be to present the changes as a fait accompli that has wide community support.
For additional information, see TOM BUTT E-FORUM Development Review Process Workshop Rescheduled, January 16, 2005.