In basketball, the shot clock determines how long a player has to let go of the ball. In municipal government, it now means proposed developments will get timely approval from cities.
House Bill 3167, passed by the Texas Legislature earlier this year, which has been in effect since Sept. 1, stipulates that those submitting projects for city approval must wait no longer than 30 days for those projects to be approved or denied.
If the city fails to do so within that allowed time, the project is allowed to go ahead whether or not it meets the city’s standards.
Municipalities statewide are struggling to amend local ordinances into compliance, and the accelerated process is particularly challenging for fast-growing cities like Kyle.
Last week, the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission summarily adopted a new Alternative Subdivision Approval Process that is in line with the new law. According to city spokeswoman Kim Hilsenbeck, the commission’s approval is all that is needed for the new process to go into effect. “Under the advisement of our attorney, we took the staff calendar of administrative processes to P&Z for it to be ratified, but it does not require further approval from any board or commission.”
The New Guidelines
The new guidelines are simple. Developers may submit a maximum of two permits at a time, either on a Monday or, if city officers are closed that day, on a Tuesday. That triggers an initial five-day review process that checks for completeness of the application, with the goal of a letter of completeness going out the following Monday. After that, the city begins a 28-day (20 business days) more thorough review and makes comments.
Developers can address concerns that are expressed and re-submit the plan on a Monday (or Tuesday) after which the city has 14 days (10 business days) to respond to comments from the resubmission. Once the comments are cleared, the item goes on the agenda for Planning and Zoning.
City planner William Atkinson, who made the presentation to the commission, said the new process “maintains flexibility and doesn’t waste people’s time,” but warned the commissioners that the timelines must be followed “or run the risk they (new projects) will be automatically approved,” whether or not that is the city’s intent.