We recommend that the plan commission meet annually with the governing body, planning and zoning staff, and zoning board to discuss concerns and make recommendations for policy changes. An annual summary of the number and specific type of development permits requested and granted can guide the plan commission in making recommendations. Excerpts from a sample report are provided at right. The plan commission should look for patterns that suggest opportunities to improve ordinance language clarity, effectiveness of standards, and administrative efficiency. It should evaluate the need to revise regulations and be prepared to make proactive recommendations to the governing body.
If local officials are granting frequent relief to Sample Developmental Survey certain provisions of the local ordinance, this may indicate that the regulations are not consistent with the goals of the comprehensive plan or are otherwise inappropriate.
For example, if many people want to build a new home in an area designated for infill development, but a variance is needed to build close to the street like existing homes, the plan commission might suggest a reduced setback or setback averaging provision. Similarly, if many people are seeking and receiving conditional use permits for rather benign home occupations such as computer-based work, the plan commission may recommend permitting this use by right. Conversely, if a certain type of permitted use is proving problematic, they may recommend adding requirements to the ordinance or converting the permitted use to a conditional use, so that conditions may be applied to mitigate adverse impacts.
Reviewing the number and types of conditions applied to permits can also be helpful. While there is no maximum number of conditions that can be attached to an approval, the plan commission may wish to monitor the situation if a high number of conditions are routinely applied, or if the conditions are really significant. If a proven set of conditions are found to be effective for mitigating certain circumstances, the plan commission should recommend revising the ordinance to include the conditions as a requirement of the permit.