A successful design requires the collaboration, participation, and consensus of many. In the public sector you have to get in early and get in often when working with development teams. These early and often sessions provide the only opportunity the public sector has to guide a project towards the community vision. The public sector should be included in the development of projects in your community, but why?

The public sector is the one that has the most to gain or lose out of a development project. The development of a project whether it is a utility project or a new building on the street, this investment is a building block that has the opportunity to advance the sustainability of your community. These investments and decisions may last well beyond our lifetimes. As the representative of the public sector, it is important to represent the local character and vision through these projects.

The public sector is the one that has the most to gain or lose out of a development project. The development of a project whether it is a utility project or a new building on the street, this investment is a building block that has the opportunity to advance the sustainability of your community. These investments and decisions may last well beyond our lifetimes. As the representative of the public sector, it is important to represent the local character and vision through these projects.

I have found that the majority of development teams welcome input from the public sector; the earlier the better. This early participation can save all parties a lot of time, money, and headaches. These early meetings are fact finding for both the developer and the municipality. It is very possible that these meetings may result in the decision for the investment not to move forward. Every developer I have met would like to know this early in the due diligence instead of 8-9 months later when they are in front of a planning commission.

These early meetings build a rapport and trust between the development team and the regulatory agency. Developers and Regulators are people, there are good ones and bad ones. The overwhelming majority of developers are good and want to do the best development. This is something that sometimes get lost in the process.

You have to get in often. It is ok for the public sector to pick up the phone and check in on the status of a development. Generally when a development team goes silent, the development team has hit a wall of some kind. By getting in often, the public sector may be able to assist with breaking through this log jam. I have found that in many of these instances, the consultant team is struggling with the text of the code which has resulted in a mis-understanding, mis-direction, and a loss of time and money. A phone call and regular communication can be used to discuss the text of the code and vision for your community. Local government needs to assume that your code is undoubtedly poorly written, and your vision has not been broadly publicized.

Submissions should not be pass or fail, just as development should not be guess and check. Legally, your zoning and development codes are intended to be pass fail, but as stated before, a clear checklist style code are unicorns and do not exist. Too many times, development consultants submit what they know or what they understand, and hope that through the review process, the municipality will correct the plan or waiver on the the requirements. The public sector should get in early and get in often with development teams so that questions can be answered real time as the project’s business plan is being developed or as the engineering is being drafted.

The development projects in your community are long term investments where both the municipality and the developer have a common goals. New investment should positively contribute to your community and implement the adopted/codified vision. Do assume that the adopted regulations will result in development that contributes to your vision, and do not assume that the development community understands your regulations. Collaboration and  communication should occur early and often.

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