MORRIS – The Grundy County Planning Commission is one step closer to disappearing.
At its recent meeting, the county board’s Land Use committee approved an ordinance that would dissolve the commission.
The next step is approval from the full board, at which point the commission will cease to exist.
The proposal first came in February when Heidi Miller, director of the county’s land use department, said that Grundy was one of the few counties that had many paths for permit applicants to navigate.
“We have had comments from developers in the past that have said the process for a map amendment or special uses is so time consuming and there is confusion in the process itself,” she said at the time. “There’s a lot of redundancy in that system.”
Currently, the county has both the planning commission and a zoning board of appeals. In addition, there are various committees that may need to hear a topic.
Miller said that with each issue and request from the public, she would have to lay out individual steps on what meeting the petitioner needs to attend when and the right order. Some at the committee said a flow chart was necessary to make it through the process.
Time also was a factor: Because of the dates when the various committees and boards meet, a request can take three months to work through the system. Without the planning commission,
it would take two months.
The ordinance will perform three functions if approved by the full Grundy County Board. It will dissolve the planning commission, allow the board of appeals to absorb the functions of the commission and transfer all documents to the appropriate offices.
One of the concerns with closing the commission was that the county would lose the institutional knowledge of the commission.
To help preserve the knowledge, Miller proposed expanding the zoning board from five to seven members, and filling out the new vacancies with members of the planning commission. With another retirement she knows is coming, she said three people from the planning commission will still be involved in the process.
“They have the wisdom and the understanding of the code and they understand planning issues,” Miller said.
The committee also approved four appointments to the board of appeals.