Leggett Pitches ‘Development Ombudsman’ To Guide Developers
County Executive Isiah Leggett has proposed hiring a “development ombudsman” who would help commercial and residential developers through what can be a tricky county approval process.
County Council President Craig Rice will introduce a bill that would create the new position on Tuesday on behalf of Leggett, who wrote in an Oct. 31 memo that the ombudsman could “bring about tangible improvements that save both time and costs.”
The ombudsman, who would be paid an estimated $198,600 per year, would assist developers in getting approvals and permits necessary for construction “by acting as a problem-solving liaison between the County and State agencies and those affected by their rules and processes.”
Leggett wrote that the person would also be responsible for finding “systemic concerns” with the county’s development approval process “to the attention of the County leadership for resolution.”
Complaints about the county’s development approval and permitting processes are nothing new.
In July, the Council’s Office of Legislative Oversight found that for projects that require all three levels of review, it could take three years to get from initial proposal to final approval.
The report found median review and approval timeframes of about 15 months for a preliminary plan, 12 months for the site plan a little more than nine months for a record plat on newly proposed development projects.
In 2013, the county hired its first small business navigator, a similar job focused on helping new and existing small businesses navigate the permitting process and other county government-related issues.
A public hearing on the Development Ombudsman position is set for Jan. 13.