COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Alternative Engineering Review Pilot Study

 

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Decision to end pilot study six months before two year study is complete

 

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Graham, and Brooks

 

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   Yes

 

AGENDA DATE: 

April 9,2008

 

ACTION:              INFORMATION:   

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

ACTION:             INFORMATION:   X

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:   Yes

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

BACKGROUND:

On September 13, 2006, the Board, at the recommendation of the Development Review Process Task Force, agreed that Community Development staff should conduct a two year pilot program designed to simplify staff review and approval of final engineering plans. (Attachment A)  To address concerns that the pilot program have well-defined criteria, the review checklist developed for the pilot was made very detailed, with a strict format of plan content and certification. Additionally, it was agreed that six month updates would be provided to the Board throughout the pilot program to verify it was working as planned.  The pilot program was initiated on the County website on October 3, 2006.  The first six month update was provided on April 4, 2007. This is the third update, one and a half years since the program’s inception.     

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:  Goal Four:  Effectively Manage Growth and Development.

 

DISCUSSION:

This pilot program was originally proposed by staff as a way to improve consistency and reduce staff workload by reducing the need for numerous resubmissions as applicants sought to meet requirements.   For the development community, this program was seen as a way to reduce costs by reducing the time required to gain plan approval.   As with the previous six month review period, the development community has shown limited interest in this program.  Below is a summary of submissions under this pilot study:

 

 

1st Six Month Period

10/3/2006 – 3/8/2007

2nd Six Month Period

3/9/2007 – 9/5/2007

3rd Six Month Period

9/5/2007- 2/5/2007

Submissions as part of pilot study

3

3

4

Submissions for regular review

241

220

298

 

In each case, plans have undergone at least 3 revisions with multiple comments and submissions.  None of the 4 plans have been approved for this six month period.

 

There have been no public comments on the program this period.  The few previous comments can be seen on the website forum (http://exprevprocess.blogspot.com/). 

 

The board raised concerns in its previous discussions about compliance with regulations during inspection and construction in addition to design.  Birchwood Place in Crozet is the first approved plan under the program and the first to reach the construction stage.   There has been no measurable difference in the construction process, nor any plan related issues. 

 

Based on this information, the pilot study has failed in its objective to improve the quality of submissions and staff plans to end the program now rather than wait until the two year study is complete.  Rather than decreasing the time and effort spent on plan review, the pilot study has increased review times, created issues with prioritization of reviews and impacted staff moral. Staff has also seen a detrimental affect on other applicants, whose plans are put aside in favor of those claiming this alternative engineering review.  Staff is now considering whether charging the full cost of review for each submission can improve plan quality.  Staff intends to present this option to the Board as part of future consideration of ordinance fee changes.    

 

BUDGET IMPACT:

Not estimated.  It is noted that the County has not charged separate fees for engineering reviews.  Thus, while it may cost the County more to have a plan receive three or four reviews, no additional fee is currently paid by the applicant for those reviews.  As noted above, whether additional fees should be charged will be considered with future ordinance fee changes.        

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

No action needed.  As noted in Attachment A, this pilot study is administrative and was initiated by staff.  Assuming the Board expresses no objection to staff ending the study at this time, staff will notify the development community the pilot program will be discontinued.        

  

 

ATTACHMENTS

Attachment A – September 13, 2006 Pilot Study Outline

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