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CHEYENNE – Before the city’s Planning and Development Department renovated its website, informational requests took up 40% of the actionable workload for planning staff. By reconfiguring the website and making necessary information easy to find for residents and developers, Department Director Charles Bloom was able to bring that percentage down to 24% with an increase in efficiencies, which was outlined in the department’s 2020 annual report.

For this year, the department plans to continue those efforts to increase efficiency and streamline the development process, as well as focus more on zoning enforcement.

“These operational improvements have really increased our efficiency and enabled us to do a lot more with a lot less revenue,” Bloom said, noting the 14% decrease the department has worked under since the 2020 COVID-19 spending reductions.

The department is also focused on making the development process run more smoothly, after a number of concerns have been raised in recent years about how long new developments take to complete in the city. Switching to an all-digital intake application reduced the time it took staff to scan materials, and intake operations in Cheyenne now take less than three business days, as opposed to up to a week previously.

Such efforts should allow planning staff to spend their time furthering large projects like the West Edge Initiative, the Reed Avenue Rail Corridor Master Plan and the Belvoir Ranch and Big Hole Master Plan – all of which were identified as focuses going forward in the 2020 report.

Additionally, city council gave the greenlight for Planning and Development to hire a code enforcement officer in fiscal year 2022, which begins July 1. That will free up more time for staff, as one of the city planners currently takes on this responsibility. It could also help the city better ensure that site plans are up to code throughout the development process.

While zoning can relate to fence height or illegal signs, Bloom said, “The most notable item of concern recently is landscaping and trees that may have died on a property.”

Out of 44 reported code violations from 2020, the department resolved 42 on its own without help from the city attorney’s office. But with someone focused solely on these violations, the department may be able to seek out fines and can identify code violations on their own, rather than depending heavily on citizen complaints.

“We’ve identified that we need a little bit more teeth on our enforcement code, and we do need to work more in line with the attorney’s office to make sure that we can prosecute these enforcements, even though we’ve solved the problem,” Bloom said.

The Greenway Committee is also under the Planning and Development umbrella, and these are the top Greenway projects listed in the 2020 report:

  • Ongoing design and coordination of multiple Greenway connector projects to include Dey Avenue, the Downtown Connector, the South Park Connector and the Avenues and Airport Connector
  • Coordination of Sweetgrass underpass, Sweetgrass Greenway and enhanced landscape maintenance agreements
  • Installation of Phase I Wayfinding signage and completion of Phase II Wayfinding plan set for bidding
  • Coordination of Greenway and Parks improvements associated with new developments
  • Coordination of bid package, bidding and council approval for Dey Avenue Greenway project
  • Coordination for the new East Cheyenne Community Open Space, including parking lot and trailhead design, bid package, bidding and council approval for intended opening to the public in early summer 2021
  • Construction and opening of the new Henderson Connector, closing a missing link in the Greenway network

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at maustin@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter at @MargaretMAustin.

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