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Streamlining the Development Process in Riverton

Jan 27, 2016 08:47AM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Briana Kelley | briana@mycityjournals.com

South Valley - Riverton City is streamlining development and cutting down wait times for business and residential applications. The city council recently voted unanimously to amend ordinances regulating the approval standards and processes for residential and commercial development at the Nov. 17, 2015 council meeting. These changes are part of the city council’s 2015-2016 strategic plan.

“Part of our 2015-2016 strategic plan was to streamline the development process,” councilmember Trent Staggs said. “I had made this request after hearing from multiple developers on the time it takes for them to get through the permitting and development process. We then had a joint planning commission and strategic planning session that I called for back in February 2015. We then reviewed ways in which we could cut down the process, from both the legislative process and internally with staff.”

The resulting legislative changes will shave off 25 calendar days for commercial site plan applications and 22 calendar days for residential site plan applications. It currently takes an average of 111 days and 144 days respectively. 

The most substantial amendment passed delegates approval authority to the planning commission, according to Jason Lethbridge, planning manager. Before, the city council approved or denied all applications with recommendations from the planning commission. The city council is now the appeal authority. 

“This is a very big change and will save the city and residents money by not having to notice twice for every site plan, and save the developer on average about 15 days for not having to wait for the city council to hear and review their plan after the planning commission has made a recommendation,” Staggs said. 

The city still requires rezone requests to come before both the planning commission and the city council.

The council hopes to further decrease application times. At the Jan. 5 council meeting the council voted unanimously to solicit bids from independent consultants to provide recommendations for further improvement. 

“We want to find the most efficient way to do that [improve and streamline the whole process in planning], as well as create a transparency and ability for updates to the individuals that we work with,” councilmember Sheldon Stewart said.

“There’s really three deliverables that we’re looking at: one, best practices to streamline the application, inspection and approval process; two, methods to improve transparency to all customers and stakeholders; and three, making the process less manual and paper-focused, implementing the latest technology,” Staggs added.

The council emphasized that the focus is not to reduce head count. Instead, as stated in the issue paper, it is to increase efficiency, best practices and latest technology to reduce the pressure on employees in the department. The funds are available in the current budget if or when a consultant is decided on.    

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