County Mayor Report
Salt Lake County has long pursued policies of planning, not politics. Never has this concept been more important. We continue to experience rapid growth, development and a constantly changing community. There are many challenges today, and there will certainly be many more tomorrow.
Today I have renewed confidence in our vision, our abilities and our willingness to act.
We have more than a million residents living in our valley. With a population centered on the narrow, 90-mile long Wasatch Front, the state of Utah is one of the most urban states in the nation.
Continued growth puts a great deal of pressure on local government entities to approve new developments.
Our purpose is twofold in Salt Lake County:
•Reducing the time frame for business license renewals, and
•Cutting the time consuming decision-making process for building applications
We are experiencing dramatic improvements in both.
Much of the credit goes to the internal restructuring of the Planning and Development Services Division, the ones responsible for development in the unincorporated county, our townships and local communities.
Our new planning process features a streamlined approach. In the past year we have developed a more experienced and educated front counter workforce. They have authority to make "over the counter" approval of permitted use applications.
This often results in "instant" approvals for business licenses in commercial office spaces.
And the future is even brighter. In 2007 permitted uses took an average of 17 weeks, start to finish. We reduced that by 75 percent last year. And we expect the time frame to drop even more this year.
For conditional uses that must be approved by a planning commission, we have designed a new process that breaks the approval into two components.
First is the public process that brings the application before a planning commission.
The planning commission may approve the land use subject to conditions on its first review of the application. Previously it required two meeting separated by at least one month. That laborious process was frustrating to everyone.
The new process is less costly as it allows the applicant to know if they have land use approval and then decide whether to pursue the expense of the second phase, the technical requirements.
The old process combined the two, costing applicants a lot of upfront money. In fact, many times changes were required meaning even more expense.
The conditional use process in 2007 required an average of nine weeks; now it's down to 5.6 weeks. We've simplified the process for all concerned. All reviewing agencies now have a site plan that has land use approval.
Salt Lake County has contracted for the development and marketing of an Economic Development Best Practices Policy which means the county will add an economic development policy to the general plans to serve as a guide to future development.