The Morgan County Council voted to approve a text amendment that would allow the Morgan County Planning and Building Department services to clear five inactive applications from their books.
The amendment would allow staff to procedurally deny applications after six months of inactivity.
“These are dormant applications,” said Charlie Ewert, planning and building department services department director. “Sometimes they didn’t know the requirements of our ordinances. After the first review transmittal, they saw the requirements the staff outlined for them, and abandoned any desire to come back and get their applications approved.”
Ewert said his department is spending time continuing to track them.
“It is an administrative drain,” he said. “We are doing extra work we should not be doing to keep them tracked and monitored.”
Some members of the council expressed a concern over applicants who have come across hard financial times, or are dealing with utility companies. Councilman Robert Kilmer said those applicants should not have their applicants denied for inactivity and have to come back and pay new application fees.
“I don’t want to penalize someone and have them start all over with fees,” Kilmer said.
Ewert said the council has the authority to waive application fees in extenuating circumstances. In addition, he said that if the applicant can prove a “good faith effort” to keep their application moving along, he will keep the application from being procedurally denied.
Ewert said he was looking forward to sending letters to five applicants, most of whom he hasn’t heard from in over a year, telling them they have 14 days to express interest in moving forward with their applications or their applications would be procedurally denied.
“Either get involved, or remove your application from our office,” he said.
Kilmer suggested keeping applications in a “dormant file,” but Ewert was concerned because two of the applications involved the PRUD planning tool that was taken off county books over two years ago.
“We have changed some laws since,” he said. “Keeping them active limits this body to govern the county appropriately.”
In his motion to pass the amendment, Councilman Ned Mecham changed the timeframe from the 90 days suggested by the planning commission to six months to be more in line with when building permits lapse for inactivity.