With reductions in municipal staffing levels and varying types of land use applications, many communities are looking for ways to streamline application processes and procedures. Application procedure manuals can be a useful tool for staff, residents, developers, and consultants offering a “one-stop shop” for land use applications. These types of instructional booklets can be geared to focus on a single land use application, (i.e. site plan review, special land use, etc.) or be inclusive of all a community’s land use applications/procedures within a single document.
These handbooks are developed to summarize application requirements, processes and procedures by paraphrasing Ordinance language and developing general office procedures for the handling and review of land use applications. Application review and approval procedures are demonstrated through flowcharts and narrative summaries. The pertinent application and required supplemental material checklist should always be included.
While the application procedure manual summarizes Ordinance requirements, it is essential that the manual references all applicable Ordinance sections, and provide a disclaimer stating that the guide does not “supersede or pre-empt” any portion of the Ordinance.
Providing land use applications to potential users in this fashion provides additional direction to the applicant, and a starting point for discussion with staff and consultants who will undertake review of the proposed project. Further, it initiates staff to evaluate best office practices to provide efficient and comprehensive reviews of land use application submittals.