New Braunfels looks to streamline city processes by shifting review of some items from council to staff, commissions

City staff is evaluating which requests require council review and which can be handled by other officials, though rezoning requests will remain on the council agenda. (Community Impact Staff)
City staff is evaluating which requests require council review and which can be handled by other officials, though rezoning requests will remain on the council agenda. (Community Impact Staff)

City staff is evaluating which requests require council review and which can be handled by other officials, though rezoning requests will remain on the council agenda. (Community Impact Staff)

During a Dec. 13 City Council meeting, council members approved the second reading of an ordinance that will kick-start the city’s efforts to re-evaluate which city processes rise to the level of council action.

“The [council] agendas are getting heavier because we're a bigger city, and so council asked us back in the summer to take a look at some of these things,” said Christopher Looney, planning and development services director for the city. “It has been noted that some of these processes do not necessarily rise to the level requiring City Council scrutiny.”

While some city processes like rezoning requests are required by law to come before council, other permitting and waiver requests and appeals could be handled by city staff, boards or commissions, Looney said.

During the December meeting, council approved a plan for the planning commission to handle appeals regarding applications for temporary mobile storage units and nonresidential and multifamily design standards.

In 2012, the authority to approve block length waivers, alternative pedestrian plans and sidewalk waivers was moved from the planning commission to council, Looney said.


City staff will now have the authority to approve these items, and denied requests will be appealed to the planning commission, and the sidewalk waiver fee has been reduced as a result of the change, he said.

The zoning board of adjustment will handle off-site parking plans and temporary vendor permits.

“We do anticipate a lot more similar items like these coming before planning commission and City Council through the unified development plan project, but this is really a great starting point to try to streamline a lot of processes,” Looney said.

Ultimately, the goal of the effort is to reduce wait times for individuals and developers seeking waivers and plan approvals while maintaining the proper appeals processes for denied requests.

“It helps make the development process faster, and it makes people hopefully happier to get their permits a lot easier,” Looney said. “But there's obviously always still relief in terms of appeals.”
By Lauren Canterberry

Reporter, New Braunfels

Lauren joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in October 2019. After graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, Lauren was a freelance journalist and worked as a college English teacher in China. At CI, Lauren covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in New Braunfels.