Planning Our Future
The Lawrence Planning Department, with strong input from Caroline Ganley, Department Head of Inspectional Services, has instituted a Plan Review Process. Mayor Michael J. Sullivan has been very supportive of this initiative. The Plan Review Process gives developers the opportunity to make an informal presentation concerning their development plans for a particular parcel of property in Lawrence.
Members of the Plan Review Process include: Fire Chief Takvorian, Fire Captain William Lannon, Fire Lieutenant Martin Dallon, Building Commissioner Luis Waldron, City Engineer Andy Wall, Economic Developer Tom Schiavone, Land Use Planner Dan McCarthy, Esq., Administrative Assistant to the Boards Anne-Marie Doherty, Head of Department of Public Works Frank McCann, and Inspectional Services Department Head Caroline Ganley.
Developers have the opportunity to provide details about their plan on a commercial development or multiple housing units to city officials. Before formally submitting their plans, developers are getting initial feedback from a variety of departments.
Any areas of concern, from public safety issues to building code matters, can be pointed out immediately to them. Developers can then make adjustments to their plans before submitting them to Building Commissioner Luis Waldron for formal review. Additionally, a developer benefits from knowing the issues that will have to be addressed right from the beginning of the process.
If there are safety concerns that fall under the jurisdiction of the Fire Department, the developers get feedback at this meeting directly from senior members of our Fire Department.
The process also saves time for companies looking to bring projects into the city. Instead of running around the city and waiting months to get complete answers, developers are provided the opportunity to get feedback and a heads up on any red flags before the shovels hit the ground.
The city benefits by getting all departments on the same page concerning future development in Lawrence. It also gives members from the different city departments the chance to hear concerns from their colleagues and gain valuable insights into the rules and regulations that each department is responsible for. By speaking with one voice, the city removes egos and miscommunications between city departments from the process. Instead of operating in a silo, officials are now at one table working together to ensure that projects meet a high standard of building, engineering, planning and safety regulations.
The exchange of ideas also helps us to think creatively about the issues presented. If water flow to a potential commercial project is a concern for our fire officials, Frank McCann from DPW and Andy Wall from engineering are right there to talk about water pipes, access to enhancements and potential drainage issues.
Having the various city departments on the same page with the ability to engage in a frank, open discussion with the developer has received a very strong and supportive response so far from both city officials and private developers.
Tower Hill Neighborhood Association
This past week I had the opportunity to visit with the Tower Hill Neighborhood Association.
Being able to speak directly with residents from a particular neighborhood gives me insights into the concerns and issues that might be effecting a defined area of the city. District D City Councilor Nicholas J. Kolofoles was kind enough to invite me in to talk about the new Planning Department and some of the initiatives that Mayor Michael J. Sullivan is putting forth. We had a lively exchange and some great questions during the course of the meeting. Many of the residents expressed their support for a Master Plan process and also for the new Vacant Lots Program that is being put together by the Planning Department. Mayor Sullivan has stressed the importance of getting community feedback and it will continue to be an area of importance as my office moves forward with this project.
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