TO:                  W. Calvin Horton, Town Manager


FROM:            Roger S. Waldon, Planning Director


SUBJECT:       Planning Issues: Fees Charged to UNC for Development Permits; Overtime; and LUMO Work Requirements


DATE:             March 30, 2004



At a Budget Work Session on February 27, the Town Council asked for staff comments on the following topics:





This memorandum offers facts and comments in response.




Most University development (and most of the activity related to University development applications) has been concentrated on the main campus.  In July 2001, the Town Council enacted a new zoning district - - Office/Institutional-4 (OI-4)- - to manage development activity on the central campus.  Application fees were set for the OI-4 zone as follows:


            Application for Development Plan:                                            $800 + $40/acre

            Application for Modification of Development Plan:                    same as above

            Application for Site Development Permit:                                  $2,600


Application fees for proposals on the main campus submitted by the University since July 2001 have been:


            Fiscal Year 01-02:                                $ 32,560

            Fiscal Year 02-03:                                   29,280

            Fiscal Year 03-04 (8˝ mo. to date):        31,226


During the last 12 months, we have seen considerable activity related to UNC development applications.  Currently, we are devoting a significant level of Planning Department staff resources to the review and processing of UNC applications.  These percentages are likely to increase in the next six months with an increasing level of UNC applications expected.


We estimate that the annual cost of this level of staff resources is approximately $65,000.  The projected level of annual revenue from UNC development application fees, for this year, is approximately $44,000.  We believe that it would be reasonable to consider an increase in fees charged for review of Development Plan and Site Development Permit applications, and will prepare a recommendation for consideration by the Council.




Two significant changes have occurred during the past 18 months in our development review functions.  First, in October 2002, an administrative decision was made to require Planning Department review of all applications for single-family and two-family development, whether new dwellings or additions to existing dwellings, prior to issuance of a Building Permit.  The purpose was to assure compliance with Town zoning regulations.  The second was enactment of the Land Use Management Ordinance in January 2003.  Included in the ordinance were new stormwater and tree protection requirements for single-family and two-family dwellings. 


The result of these changes has been the processing of approximately 500 applications for single-family/two-family Zoning Compliance Permit during the last 12 months.


The amount of Planning Department staff time necessary to process an application for a single-family/two-family permit varies according to what is proposed.  The simplest type of proposal is for a small addition to an existing dwelling (e.g., front porch).  Following are the types of circumstances that increase complexity (and, accordingly, increase staff time required to work with the citizen to process the application):


§         Presence of Resource Conservation District on the property

§         Presence of steep slopes on the property

§         Existing structure very close to required setback lines or height limits

§         Increase in impervious surface

§         Land disturbance exceeding 5,000 square feet

§         Change in use (e.g., adding an accessory apartment)


We have instituted a process called “Express ZCP” for applications that have few or none of these complicating circumstances.  Generally, an Express ZCP can be issued within a day or two of receipt of an application, and may involve as little as 1-2 hours of staff time. 


For applications that have complicating circumstances, we often find the need to ask the applicant for additional information, and often need to conduct multiple reviews.  Generally, a standard Zoning Compliance Permit for a single-family/two-family application will consume approximately 5-10 hours of staff time.  When multiple submittals and reviews are involved, the required staff time can be considerably greater.  We have had individual applications with multiple complications consume as much as 50 hours of staff time per application.  Fortunately, this is an unusual occurrence. 




At the Council’s request we pulled records from the most recent 12 months to review the amount of overtime that is being worked in the Planning Department.  Time sheet records show the following for the Department for this 12-month period:


            # of hours worked beyond the normal work week:                    1,142

            # of hours subsequently taken as compensatory time off:               628


            Number of uncompensated overtime hours:                                  514


In addition, we note that several staff members are not taking vacation days as another means of managing the workload.  Four of the 12 professional planners in the department have reached the maximum amount of vacation days that can be accumulated.  According to Town personnel policies, vacation that is accrued after the maximum accumulation has been reached rolls over into accrued sick leave.  The total amount of lost vacation time for staff during this most recent 12-month period is 561 hours.  Adding uncompensated overtime hours and lost vacation days together, planners have given an extra 1,075 uncompensated working hours to the Town during the most recent 12-month period (A full year’s work for a full-time position is approximately 2,000 hours).