Friends in the Development Community,
I wanted to make you aware if you haven't already heard, and my apologies if I've already told you, about a recent rule change we made up at the EBR Planning Commission regarding deferrals. I had been bothered for some time and then started hearing several complaints about deferrals being overused and abused. So, I initiated a rule change that we got hammered out and approved at our last meeting. Here is the new rule:
"The Planning Commission may defer any Planning and Zoning item. Any one planning or zoning item is limited to one automatic deferral that must be requested by the Council member in whose district the proposed development is located. Either an applicant or neighboring property owner may also request that the Planning Director authorize a deferral one time. Such deferrals may be approved by the Planning Director if the request is justified by a legitimate planning-related reason; however, the Planning Director shall not authorize any deferrals made less than one week prior to the Planning Commission public hearing. If the item appears on the agenda following that deferral, the Planning Commission shall hear the case, though nothing shall prevent the Planning Commission from deferring the item further on its own initiative with the minimum deferral authorized being for 60 days."
My hope is that this will help bring some predictability to the process and help move things along without frivolous deferrals.
I'm also sure if you read the rule to the end, that 60 day requirement caught your attention. It was something that we debated for some time but in the end when you look at the time requirements for review at the staff level, required public notification, etc., a 30-day deferral does not allow sufficient time for any meaningful change to an application. Mr. Duke has asked numerous times over the last several months that if the commission is looking to defer, to do so for a minimum of 60 days to allow sufficient time for a change submittal, review, etc. That said, in cases where 30 days truly is sufficient, we can always vote to suspend the rule and then defer for 30 days.
I just wanted to make you aware of the rule change and would be happy to discuss further if you would like. As always, I look forward to working with you in the future.
Jason E. Engen, MBA, MPP
Director of Client Development
Southern Earth Sciences, Inc.
11638 Sunbelt Court
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
Office Direct: (225) 356-4355
Fax: (225) 752-1467
Cell: (225) 405-0026