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Smithfield subdivision review process aims to ease planning

November 28th, 2015 Posted in Opinion

By Rebecca Wheatley

SMITHFIELD — How subdivision developers plan and apply for their project approvals in Smithfield is about to change.

The City Council has created a new Subdivision Technical Review Committee, which will work with developers in the planning stages of their projects to make sure they’re meeting all regulations before they take their plans to the Planning Commission.

Under the new subdivision rules, the review committee will screen preliminary plat plans, and make sure projects fulfill all city ordinances.

City manager Craig Giles said the changes are being made in an effort to streamline the planning process and make it easier for developers and city officials to review and approve projects.

The review committee includes representatives of the city building department, and police and fire departments, Giles said. “We will meet twice a month with developers to make sure they’re getting the requirements they need.”

Developers will be “provided an opportunity to meet with representatives from all applicable utilities and other interested government agencies to receive comments regarding the concept application,” the new ordinance says.

As in the past, Giles said, after the review committee has approved the plan, it will go to the Planning Commission and the City Council.

“We want to get all of the information in one place so that we’re not letting anything slip through the cracks,” Giles said.

Giles said another big change is to curb, gutter and sidewalk requirements. Previously, the ordinance said the City Council could waive those in developments west of 400 West, but city officials chose to delete that from the new regulations.

“We think there’s no good reason to have an arbitrary line,” Giles said, although he said developers can still ask for such waivers anywhere in the city.

Councilmember Dennis Watkins said he would approve the amendments on the condition that a complete description of the committee membership is added.

“Right now, the committee isn’t defined,” Watkins said. “I’m not comfortable with that because that just says there’s a committee. I would think it’s appropriate to have a definition so that everyone knows who’s on that committee.”

Otherwise, Watkins said he liked the new ordinance. “Everything is put together well,” he said. “The concept is great and the professional approach is admirable.”

The Council agreed to approve the amendments with Watkins’ amendment.

Councilmember Barbara Kent also said she is very happy with the way the new amendments turned out.

“Having been on the Planning Commission, I think this is a great improvement,” Kent said. “We’re adding something, not taking it away.”


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