WORCESTER - The City Council has asked the city administration to create a more streamlined development permitting process by eliminating any duplication.
The goal is to shorten the duration of the permitting process so construction costs can be controlled for the development of reasonably priced market-rate housing in the city.
District 3 Councilor George J. Russell, who initiated the request in an order he introduced before the council Tuesday night, said developers often have to go through a process that can take three or four months, or even longer in some cases, and end up delaying the beginning of a project by one construction season if it is not started before winter.
That, in turn, often makes it more costly to build housing in the city and also curbs small-business growth, he said.
Mr. Russell pointed out that some of the same issues and the same plans related to a development are reviewed by multiple city boards - Conservation Commission, Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals - but sometimes those meetings could be months apart.
In some instances, he added, the different boards and commissions even receive the same recommendations from city planning and public works staff.
"When a builder gets put off three to four months, in a building cycle that's one year," he said. "My hope is that the city manager and his team will look at the process from top to bottom and try to eliminate any duplication that exists.
"We really need to look at this, not to loosen up any of the rules and not to make it easier or less environmentally sensitive," the councilor added. "I'm just looking to eliminate duplication."
In other business, the City Council:
• Asked the city administration to consider scheduling parking control officers to work shifts after 3 p.m. on weekdays and on weekends.
Councilor-at-Large Morris A. Bergman said the fact that no parking control officers work during the evening or on weekends "waters down" the purpose of having resident-only parking on designated streets.
When parking control officers are not on duty, he said, residents are forced to call the Police Department when a vehicle is parked on their street that does not belong there. But he said police often are unable to respond to such calls in a timely manner because they have many other priorities.
As a result, Mr. Bergman said, there pretty much is no enforcement of resident-only parking restrictions during evenings and weekends.
"That waters down the whole purpose of it," he said. "The resident-only parking areas need some protection."
• Asked the city manager to consider allowing members of boards and commissions to serve on more than one board or commission, provided there is no conflict of interest.
• Asked for a status report on the city's public safety fleet, including the age, condition and life expectancy for all the vehicles, as well as plans for budgeting for their replacement and repair.
• Asked for a report concerning the structural integrity of the stone wall on Highland Street between Newton Square and Park Avenue.