Each of the councilmen would have one appointment to each of the two Design Review Boards.
“The appointment process is key here because without the correct players on the [Design Review Board] you have no reform,” Councilman John Drayman said.
Reform on Tuesday took the form of a proposed joint-oversight system for city planners as a way to curtail the broad powers of the Design Review Boards.
While the two boards would retain approval authority, city planners can look forward to having more input with homeowners in the initial design phase of a project if the new system is ultimately approved.
Under the proposed review flow chart, project applicants would work with city planners to bring their projects into compliance with a yet-to-be determined list of compatibility and design criteria before reaching a publicly noticed Design Review Board meeting.
A city staff report would accompany the project informing board members of how well the project adhered to the set of design guidelines. If the Design Review Board determines the project to be in compliance, it’s approved.
If not, board members would have the authority to send the project back with conditions and suggestions on how certain criteria could be met.
Single-family home designs often get caught up for months in Design Review Board-inspired redesigns, some of which are appealed to an Alternative Assessment Panel — made of members from both boards — and then to the City Council.
The process can take more than a year, cost the applicant thousands of dollars and clog the council agenda with appeals hearings that often end up just as divisive as they are decisive.