Moratorium not a hassle for approved projects – yet
A redevelopment plan City Council approved Monday night can’t receive a building permit under the current moratorium, but that won’t necessarily delay construction.Planner Stan Clauson, representing the developers of the project, at 719 E. Hopkins Ave., said the delay “does slow us down somewhat, but on the other hand, there’s plenty of work in the interim.” Even without the moratorium, developers would have to go through a number of steps before the building department can issue the permit.”That may just take up the rest of the time completely,” Clauson said.But that doesn’t mean the moratorium isn’t a concern. Clauson said an extension of the moratorium could be a “hardship” for projects like the one approved Monday night.”Anyone who receives approval would like to begin construction as soon as possible,” he said.The moratorium is scheduled to end Oct. 31, but there’s some doubt that council can meet its objectives by then.”Excavation during mid-winter can be done, but it’s much more expensive,” Clauson said. “Weather is a distinct problem.”City Attorney John Worcester doesn’t anticipate any lawsuits from developers who earn approval but can’t get building permits because of the ban. Even if the city extends the moratorium, he said, as long as the extension is reasonable, it’s still legal.”If those conditions [that prompted the ban] still exist, you can extend the moratorium,” he said. But “you can’t do it indefinitely.”James Lindt, senior planner for the city, said that under normal circumstances, a developer has “a vested-rights time period of three years” from the time a project is approved to begin construction without being subject to code changes.”After that, if land-use code has changed, they may be subject to those changes,” he said. “The [moratorium] doesn’t impact their ability to construct a project. It just pushes that time frame out.”One of council’s goals during the ban is to decide how to control the number of construction projects under way at any given time.”We don’t have anything in place right now that would allow us to hold someone’s project up if they have development rights in place,” Lindt said.That means the building department can’t withhold a permit to stagger projects, and Lindt said “that’s a main issue of discussion during the moratorium.”He estimates there may be close to a dozen projects that are still eligible for approval during the moratorium but can’t receive building permits until it is lifted.Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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