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Planning and Design Newsroom

Review of Planning and Design Department Recommends Changes to Improve Agency

Friday October 7, 2011

Cites neighborhood, developer frustrations

The city’s Planning and Design Services, responsible for overseeing land and other development issues, has “systemic problems” that often lead to delays that frustrate developers and neighborhoods leaders, according to a performance review of the agency released today.

The review, conducted over seven months at the request of Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, recommended numerous steps to improve the agency, including more timely notification to neighborhoods impacted by development and a streamlined review for developers in non-controversial cases.

The review team — a diverse group comprised of developers, historic preservation advocates and neighborhood leaders — praised the “dedicated and professional group of planners and decision makers” working for the agency but said improvements could lead to better results for citizens and customers.

“The outcomes of the review are not surprising because I’ve heard, time and again, the frustration from citizens and developers,” Fischer said. “We will take this information and work to build a world-class agency that balances the needs of both neighborhoods and developers.”

The report recommended hiring a permanent leader for Planning and Design Services, which is already underway, said Jim Mims, Director of Codes and Regulations. Planning and Design is an agency within Codes and Regulations.

The mayor said Mims will remain as Codes and Regulations Director, noting that he received wide praise from the review team, citizens, employees and neighborhood groups.

Other recommendations include:

  • Reviewing and revising Cornerstone 2020, the comprehensive land development plan;
  • Empowering the Planning and Design staff to approve minor plats and other Board of Zoning Adjustment requests that are not controversial and largely routine;
  • Expanding weekend and night hearings to ensure the public has wider input;
  • Reviewing the status of projects no less than monthly to ensure they are moving through the process effectively;
  • Notifying neighborhood associations, Metro Council members and the public at large as soon as pre-application development plans are submitted;
  • Putting more information -- including full case files (both pending and past cases) -- online.

The report also recommends the creation of a Planning and Design Services advisory committee to ensure that review recommendations are being implemented and to develop metrics for measuring ongoing progress.

Some of the recommendations can be implemented immediately; others will take a year or two, the report concluded.

Members of the committee include:

  • · Jim Mims - Chairperson
  • · Dena First- Project Manager
  • · Steve Porter – Attorney and historic preservation expert
  • · Gail Lively -Louisville Apartment Association
  • · Chuck Kavanaugh - Home Builders Association
  • · Tom Fitzgerald - Environmental leader
  • · Bill Bardenwarper - Zoning attorney
  • · Gabe Fritz - Developer
  • · Tina Ward-Pugh - Councilwoman
  • · Deborah Bilitski - Attorney
  • · Tommy Clark- Office of the Mayor

The full audit is available at