Should Rochester reduce ability of citizens to improve projects?

I say no, but the city administrator is recommending yes. It also appears that the topic will be discussed in pseudo-secret at our monthly dinner meeting. I say pseudo-secret because the venues are often not accessible to many, and inaudible to those that can make it.

I want both the committee on urban design and the environment (CUDE) and planning commission to do everything they can to make proposals fit our plans by the time they come to us. For CUDE this means withholding support or writing letters opposing things that hurt urban design or our environment. For planning this means tabling, adding conditions or denying projects all together. I want to continue to enable and encourage these groups to negotiate positive changes.

I also remain skeptical of the claims by Associated Bank. I suspect the issue had more to do with the quality of their proposal than with any poor treatment. I have asked staff to comment on what actually happened. If inappropriate actions were taken they will be addressed.

I have recently heard of complaints of discourtesy treatment of applicants that have appeared before the Planning Commission and CUDE. The latest complaint that I heard involved a situation where the Vice President of Associated Bank appeared before CUDE and was upset by the treatment received from some the CUDE members. Some of my thoughts on this matter are:

The permanent city staff receive significant input about the need for courteous customer service requirements when dealing with the public and the staff hears about the lack of such customer service from the governing body. In the case of the city commission and committee members, they do not receive any input on how they should treat the public that appears before them and they do not have any body providing any overview of how they are treating the public. The permanent staff is not in a position to provide the performance overview of the city commissions or boards.

I would recommend that the governing body review the mission and purpose of the Planning Commission and CUDE. These entities are set up to be advisory to the governing body. These bodies seem to be significantly involved in the attempting to negotiate some elements of a development project and it should be determined by the governing body if that is the appropriate role of the entities. I would prefer to have the bodies advisory and to leave the negotiations of any changes to a development proposal to the governing body.

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