GALVESTON — The city’s new Land Development Regulations might not be completed until 2014, the city’s planning director said.
Speaking at a meeting of the Galveston Association of Island Neighbors on Thursday, Planning Director Richard Vasquez said budget limitations will soon mean the end of involvement by the consulting company hired to write the regulations. That, combined with the pace of review being completed by the city’s planning commission, could push the project into next year.
Vasquez said the consulting group, HDR Inc., is scheduled to participate in two more planning commission meetings and one more city council meeting. The group, which includes both legal and urban planning advisers, has been crafting the regulations that are meant to update and standardize the city’s rules for development.
With the consultants gone, the planning department will take over the business of revising the regulations.
In an email Friday, Vasquez said he was confident his department could handle the task.
“Between the city’s planning, legal and public works department, we are fortunate to have professional and experienced attorneys, engineers and planners that can complete the drafting of the LDR,” Vasquez said.
However, he also said that work will be done on top of the typical business performed by the five-person planning department.
Vazquez said another draft of the regulations will not be ready for another three to six months. At that point, the planning commission will begin a second review before sending the plan to the city council.
Vasquez, who joined the planning department in January, said he believed the review of the land development regulations may have been under budgeted.
The land development regulations are the final piece of a $1.7 million project to rewrite the city’s planning documents, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The project, which began in January 2011, has also produced a comprehensive plan and several smaller specialized plans, dealing with things like parks, historic preservation and erosion.
In January 2012, the planning commission scheduled five workshops to review and recommend changes to the 300-plus-page draft regulations. The meetings have not moved as swiftly as planned. Originally, workshops were to be completed by the end of February, but a new schedule has extended the process until at least April 23.
Vasquez praised the planning commission for its level of involvement but acknowledged that the process of going line-by-line through the draft regulations was pushing back the completion date.
“The level of review was not built into the original LDR development timeline,” he said.
Joe Rozier, chairman of the planning commission, said the review process was slow going at first but that his board was now “on a roll.”
“I think it needs to be done as thoroughly as possible,” Rozier said, adding that he hoped the commission would complete their second read-through in May, have a public comment period and present a draft to the city council.
On Thursday, Vasquez told the neighborhood association that even when the planning commission produces a document that is ready to be sent to the city council members, it probably won’t mean the end of work.
“My guess is that they will probably not adopt what the planning commission recommends,” Vasquez said. “That’s why I think it will take between 12 and 24 months to finish this process.”