Stephens unveils draft development guide

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Stephens unveils draft development guideA draft document to help guide building processes, presented by Councilwoman Lindsey Stephens at Wednesday night’s Ridgecrest Economic Development Committee, was positively received by city officials, as well as members of the public.

In recent weeks, concerns from the public have targeted confusing or inconsistently applied building and development practices at the city. Stephens responded to some of those concerns by announcing her intent to take on the issue at the committee level.

At the meeting, she told attendees that she researched the processes other cities used to help inform a handbook that the city could use with potential builders and developers.

The guide will be posted on the city’s website, with hyperlinks connecting the user to relevant resources.

Stephens said the city will offer a free consultation at the beginning of the process to ensure that staff and potential developers can establish requirements and expectations.

The guide includes a link to the city’s General Plan, which outlines zoning and use for parcels within city limits.

The guide dedicates individual pages to specific processes (annexation, rezoning, etc.) and includes a checklist of requirements from the city and anticipated milestones for the processes.

Stephens noted that the city is working on a new fee schedule, so that element will be updated once the new fees are adopted by the Ridgecrest City Council.

“The guide should serve commercial developers as well as the average homeowner,” she said.

Input from the public included a suggestion from Ridgecrest Area Association of Realtors President

Norman Alexander, who asked the city to keep an electronic version of each applicant’s documentation on file to better accommodate amending and referencing applications.

Planning Commissioner Bill Farris Jr., who also sits on the committee, said he would be interested in turning over the draft guide to developers to make sure there are no gaps from their perspectives.

“I like it a lot,” said Chuck Roulund, a local contractor. “I think we are really close to where it needs to be.

“I like the checklist and a few of the other things regarding the submittal process — especially the free preapplication meeting.”

Stephens said that the guide will be a “working document,” so that the city can continue to amend it as issues arise.

“Have you walked through the scenarios of the city’s recent notable failures?” asked Skip Gorman, referring to the attempted expansions of Warren Automotive and Ridgecrest Regional Hospital.

Gorman wanted to know if the proposed process would have prevented the conflicts that arose in those projects. City Manager Ron Strand said it might have helped in the case of the Warren project.

“I think this is a great communication tool,” said Alexander. However, he noted, one guide could not catch everything. He recommended that the city include a disclosure statement prompting developers to perform due diligence on their projects.

Story First Published: 2019-05-10