New state law places deadline on Richardson to review development plans

A new state law places a deadline on how long cities have to act on certain types of development plans. As a result, the city will need to amend its Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, according to Michael Spicer, director of development services for the city of Richardson.

House Bill 3167 was passed during the last legislative session and took effect Sept. 1. The law requires cities to decide on applications for certain development plans, such as subdivision plats, within 30 days of filing. If the city fails to meet the deadline, the application is automatically approved, regardless of errors or compliance with municipal code, Spicer said. In Richardson, the City Planning Commission is responsible for approving these plans.

Under the new law, if the commission chooses to conditionally approve or disapprove the applicant's request, it must provide a written statement with references to state or local statutes. This is more detail than was previously provided, Spicer said.

Once the applicant responds with an explanation of how they will gain compliance, the city has 15 days to act on the permit. If the commission does not meet the deadline, the permit will be automatically approved.

To avoid a perpetual back-and-forth, the city is changing its policy to allow for only one round of revisions on the part of the applicant. If more errors are identified in the proposal, the applicant must start the process from the beginning.

Richardson also intends to expand staff's ability to approve certain minor plats, re-plats and plat amendments. This move simply widens the scope of an existing practice, Spicer said. Staff will also be able to approve all development plans that fully comply with zoning regulations and special permits, he said.

The bill also removes the requirement for cities to hold public hearings for re-plats that involve two or fewer dwellings per lot. This is a favorable change, Spicer said, since if an application complies, the city is obligated by law to approve, he said. However, neighbors within 200 feet must be notified within 15 days of approval, he added.

City Council is scheduled to vote on amendments to the city's Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance on Dec. 2.
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