Brett Limbaugh, Director of Community Planning and Development Services for Rapid City, South Dakota, will succeed Greg George as Loveland's Development Services Director.
Limbaugh was hired by Rapid City in 2011 for an annual salary of $91,787. The City of Loveland will be paying Limbaugh an annual salary of $115,000 after selecting him from a pool of six final candidates for the position.
As Loveland's Director of Community Planning and Development Services, Limbaugh will oversee Current Planning, Strategic Planning and Development Services divisions within city hall. Limbaugh worked previously for Commerce City in Colorado for 13 years and for 3 years for Edgemark Development Services in Denver.
Longtime city employee Greg George was among the more controversial figures in city hall and the development community. Known for scratching the backs of friends while punishing adversaries, George's management techniques were the subject of numerous lawsuits in which the City of Loveland spent hundreds of thousands of dollars (see Brothers Klen as one example or Morgan case).
Limbaugh's Agenda in Rapid City - Maybe Loveland?
Like many cities in the United States, Rapid City relied on a Planned Development (PD) Overlay District for zoning. Over the years amendments were added to the plan which made it cumbersome to use and many argued it was outdated. Similarly, Loveland's 1970's building and zoning ordinances have been defended by local developers who know them best and saw the complexity as a barrier of entry from competitors to out-of-town competition making reform difficult.
An outside consulting firm, Lehe Planning, recommended in 2013 that Rapid City completely repeal its planning and zoning ordinances and replace them with a "Unified Development Code" which is a boiler-plate system the same consultants have recommended to cities across the country which includes a "Conditioned Zoning" instead of planned development. In this model, the staff has much greater discretion in working with the developer to approve various uses within the parcel.
The same firm, Lehe Planning, made a number of previous recommendations in 2010 to improve Rapid City's building and planning process which were under scrutiny by the mayor who argued the bureaucracy had become too difficult for developers to navigate. By 2011 the city's planning director of 20 years was fired and Limbaugh recruited as the change agent to reform the embattled department.
Working closely with the mayor and Limbaugh, Lehe Planning presented a final report in December 2013 (see report) that tracked changes since its 2010 study of the troubled process and departments but also recommended a more radical solution of completely repealing the city's existing ordinances for both planned development and zoning in favor of the "Unified Development Code."
In Loveland, the "Millennium General Development Plan" operates much like a unified development code but was adopted exclusively for McWhinney's Centerra so they could operate under different laws than the rest of the city. In May of 2007, Loveland's City Council approved wholesale changes to that plan (Amendment #9) by removing the last remnants of any public review (see our story).
Like Centerra's Millennium Plan, the Unified Development Code shifts authority away from elected officials and their appointed planning commissions and into the hands of city staff. One selling point Lehe Planning supporters have argued, in Southern states, is staff can deal with controversial applications like Adult Businesses without the need to involve elected officials or conduct lengthy public hearings that may bring negative press coverage to the appointed planning commission.
Below are excerpts from the minutes of a February 6, 2013 Rapid City Planning Commission meeting that captures a discussion between Limbaugh and a Planning Commissioner regarding this very issue -
"Limbaugh referenced the recent discussion regarding casinos noting that with the Unified Development Code uses such as Casinos or Adult Ordinated Businesses could be made a Conditional Use and the restrictions for this conditional use would be clearly defined including buffering requirements, screening and other restrictions. Limbaugh noted this this would be clearly laid out in the Unified Development Code.
Brewer stated that it appears that the proposed platting process will remove the opportunity for the general public to have input or to be noticed on new development and that he hopes that the new provisions does not completely remove any hearing.
Monson left the dais at this time.
Limbaugh addressed how the repeal of Planned Developments Ordinance and the implementation of Conditional Zoning would shift the process developers use to obtain variances from the Planning Commission to the Board of Adjustment." Whether Loveland City Manager Bill Cahill hired Limbaugh to initiate a similar reform process in Loveland remains to be seen.
Loveland Hires New Director of Community Planning and Development
Loveland's newly appointed Director of Development Services Brett Limbaugh