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Lodi's Site Plan Architectural Review Committee may be disbanded

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Posted: Tuesday, October 31, 2006 10:00 pm

A Lodi committee that reviews building designs could be disbanded to streamline the city's planning process.

The Site Plan Architectural Review Committee, which reviews final plans for commercial and multi-family buildings including fencing, elevation, exterior designs and color, could be incorporated within the Planning Commission, according to Community Development Director Randy Hatch.

"Perhaps the planning commission can do it all," Hatch said at Tuesday morning's informal City Council meeting. "Perhaps we don't need SPARC."

The committee, which is made up of the vice chairman of the planning commission and four members appointed by the mayor, only reviews about 12 buildings each year, according to Hatch. SPARC's Oct. 16 meeting was canceled because of a lack of agenda items.

Formed in 1970, one of SPARC's roles is to make sure buildings are not "unsightly, undesirable or obnoxious," according to the city ordinance that established the committee.

Don Kundert has been on SPARC since it was formed. He said the planning commission could do SPARC's job, but he is worried about losing the committee's role of reviewing the visual appeal of buildings.

"The aesthetic could be lost if the job falls to the planning commission," he said. "SPARC is a good thing, but maybe it's just one more layer of government."

City Planner David Morimoto and staff liaison to SPARC said the committee takes some of the load off the planning commission, which could be overworked if there are many new buildings to review at once. The Reynolds Ranch development includes commercial buildings, which would be reviewed by SPARC. The committee does not review single family homes, Morimoto said.

Most of the council members agreed to explore the possibility of disbanding SPARC and asked for the matter to be brought up at a regular council meeting.

"If the planning commission can do SPARC's job, it doesn't seem like a stretch to have them do all the work," Councilman John Beckman said. "It would be one-stop shopping."

Councilman Larry Hansen said people who want to improve their homes would benefit from eliminating one step in the review process.

"The last thing I want to do is add to the bureaucracy," he said. "We should streamline the process."

Mayor Susan Hitchcock said SPARC's role should not be lost even if the committee is disbanded.

"SPARC evolved with a purpose," she said. "I just don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water."

Contact reporter Matt Brown at mattb@lodinews.com.

SPARC at a glance

Formed: 1970
Members: Vice Chair of Planning Commission Gina Moran and four members appointed by the mayor.
Current Members: Don Kundert, Kieth Selleseth, Roger Staffard and Mitchell Slater.
Purpose: Assists the Planning Commission in reviewing site plans and architectural drawings.
Determines compliance with zoning ordinances.
Promotes the orderly development of the city.
Helps prevent the depreciation of land values by the erection of structures or additions without proper attention to unsightly, undesirable, or obnoxious appearance.
Source: Site Plan and Architectural Review Committee.

First published: Wednesday, November 1, 2006

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