GREAT FALLS – The Great Falls City Commission voted to suspend the Design Review Board Wednesday night to help reduce the Planning and Community Development Department’s workload.
The department is currently short-staffed and experiencing an increase in projects.
The combined impact of staff vacancies and complex projects created a concern that legal land development projects, that would otherwise be reviewed administratively through the permit process, were becoming bogged down due to current staff responsibilities to provide staff support for the Design Review Board, according to city documents.
City officials hope that with a six-month suspension, staff can reevaluate and determine a more efficient and simpler process for land development.
“The department has been extraordinarily busy,” Greg Doyon, city manager, said. “The intent is to give them some breathing room.”
Despite the suspension, the Planning and Community Development Department will continue to enforce all development standards established by city code.
Two people, including Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Shane Etzwiler, spoke in support of the suspension. Etzwiler said the suspension is a good idea to help streamline the development process.
Great Falls resident and Design Review Board member Shannon Wilson, who spoke on her own behalf, said the board can offer expert advice and is pro-development.