Encourage Growth by Letting People Build
You spend thousands of dollars planning your new project. Along the way you have worked with the city step-by-step to ensure your project meets specific codes and restrictions. Then a bomb drops out of nowhere. Either the Planning Commission puts a stop to or delays your project, or wires got crossed within the city and your project is now on hold costing you time and money.
I hear it over and over “I will not build inside city limits.” When I ask why the answers are typically a combination of the process is unfair, it takes too long, and the city acts like they do not want my business. It should not be this way. People should want to build in Tullahoma, instead of having to beg.
Codes and certain restrictions are important. We should be ensuring new construction and renovations are built with safety in mind, and that they fit an overall city-wide plan adopted by the community. But, this can be done without being so restrictive that it kills any desire to build within city limits.
These codes and restrictions should also always be applied in a uniform manner and not used by the Codes Department or the Planning Commission to kill a project simply because they do not like the builder or type of structure being built. Too often I’ve sat in a Planning Commission meeting and watched a project get delayed or denied because of personal feelings towards the builder or his or her project. That is not fair, or right. It not only keeps people wanting to build and grow our city, it opens us up for lawsuits on the taxpayer’s dollar.
Another issue is time. In construction, time is money. From the time a project starts, until the time a project is completely finished, every tick of the clock is costing someone money. Delays caused by misinformation or the different city departments not being on the same page, cannot happen. In cases where it does or even in cases where it was caused by the builder, the city should be looking for ways to keep the project moving versus putting it on hold if it can be done without compromising public safety or causing future liability.
Behind the Board of Mayor and Alderman, the Planning Commission is the most critical body in our local government. Those appointed to serve on the Planning Commission should have prior experience in planning or construction so that they fully understand the ins and outs of what is going on. Our Planning Commission should be functioning as an actual planning commission. Some of the roles of the Planning Commission include:
- Make reports and recommendations to the governing body about community development.
- Recommend building and financing programs for public improvements.
- Make and adopt an official general plan for the municipality’s physical development.