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One-Stop Shop becomes part of Planning Department

Monday, July 20, 2009 by Austin Monitor

Effective today, employees of the Watershed Protection and Development Review Department who deal with development—about 250 city workers—are part of the Neighborhood Planning and Zoning Department—and that department is being renamed Planning and Development Review to reflect its new enhanced role.


City Manager Marc Ott said Sunday that he believes there will be a more consistent application of the Land Development Code with consolidation of city planners and those who oversee application of the code. Development review employees who have been reporting to Victoria Li as director of WPDR will now report to Greg Guernsey.


Assistant City Manager Sue Edwards told In Fact Daily there would be no change in physical location and no additional cost. She said, “We have been talking about (the merger) for about six months off and on…one of the things I was looking at doing was putting together both the implementation and planning and the review part so they would have better communication.” All of the employees are housed at One Texas Center.


Those employees making the switch include everyone in what is called the One-Stop Shop: the Development Assistance Center, Residential Review, Commercial Review, the Permit Center, Land Use Review, Site and Subdivision Inspection, Environmental Inspection and Building Inspection, according to a memo from Guernsey.


The missions of these departments will remain the same and the change should be seamless for builders, contractors, developers, homeowners, neighborhoods, and other customers of the One-Stop Shop,” Guernsey wrote. “It will not affect the delivery of services. In fact, over time, customers should experience the benefits of better coordination, the sharing of staff expertise and cross training among the various land use disciplines.”


Guernsey noted that the city’s Environmental Officer, Pat Murphy, would remain in the Watershed Protection Department, overseeing watershed engineering, environmental resource management, field operations, and the brownfields program. “There will be continued close involvement between the Watershed Protection Department and the new department to ensure we continue to meet our mission to protect the community and the environment from the impacts of flooding, erosion and pollution,” Guernsey concluded.

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