Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Leland considers dropping sketch plans from pre-development approval process

Site plans for ongoing projects planned in the Town of Leland are publicly-available on the town's new development tracker. Clockwise from top left, Leland Station in Waterford, Bellamy Place, the Village at Skylar's Cove, Leland Town Center. (Site plans courtesy Town of Leland, edited by Port City Daily)
Site plans for ongoing projects planned in the Town of Leland are publicly-available on the town’s new development tracker. Clockwise from top left, Leland Station in Waterford, Bellamy Place, the Village at Skylar’s Cove, Leland Town Center. (Site plans courtesy Town of Leland, edited by Port City Daily)

LELAND — Leland’s Planning Board unanimously approved a proposed text amendment that would remove a requirement that developers provide site plans or sketches prior to preliminary and final plat approvals.

The change would eliminate steps in the subdivision review process and introduce a new Administrative Manual to guide the pre-approval development process.

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The option to change the town’s pre-approval process appears to have arisen out of sentiments shared by developers, according to previous planning board discussions on the topic.

Planning Board approved the changes at its Aug. 27 meeting. Next, Town Council will review the item before it is officially enacted.

Unofficial plans in the public record

At the Planning Board’s meeting last month, Leland Planner Andrew Neylon said developers can be uncomfortable submitting unofficial plans into the public record.

“Developers are sometimes leery in submitting something official, which becomes public record, and they don’t necessarily want to do that,” Neylon said at the July 23 meeting. “Sometimes it’s just a conversation to have across the board — or across the table.”

When a planning board member asked whether Neylon agreed it would best for developers to submit a sketch plan, Neylon said planning staff agrees that they aren’t “necessarily warranted.”

Under the proposed changes, sketch plans would still be recommended and encouraged — currently, they’re required.

Typically, sketch plans include details about a proposed project, including the approximate location of stormwater features, open space, public infrastructure, and basic building design elements. When provided early on in the development process, planning board members and town planning staff can help use this visual information to provide technical adjustments or suggestions before projects are approved.

Leland Planning staff presented in proposed documents and last month’s meeting the idea that much of the required data — number of units, setbacks, etc. — can be provided in pre-development meetings.

“Sketch plans are not full submittals and some developers are cautious in revealing plans until officially committed,” a town explanation of the text amendment states. “In this electronic age, many plans are commented on via email and staff would have copy of comments and notes to refer to, if a sketch plan was provided.”

In the scenario provided, emailed sketch plans and comments would still be considered a public record under North Carolina Public Record Law. However, these materials would be more difficult to obtain, as opposed to being included in meeting agenda packet materials or uploaded to the town’s recently-launched development tracker.

The proposed text amendment appears below with detailed comments from town staff, beginning on page 3-22. The proposed Administrative Manual appears on page 23:

Plat review text amendment by Johanna Ferebee on Scribd


Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee at johanna@localvoicemedia.com

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