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updated: 3/6/2014 6:11 PM

Buffalo Grove could merge planning, zoning boards

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Buffalo Grove is looking to simplify and streamline its process for reviewing potential developments.

Village board members this week heard a variety of proposals from staff to ease the planning and zoning process by, among other things, merging the plan commission and the zoning board of appeals and eliminating the Appearance Review Team.

Other potential changes outlined by Deputy Village Manager Jennifer Maltas include changes in the sign code that will transfer some decision-making authority from the zoning board to the building commissioner.

Ironically, any decision to merge the zoning board and plan commission would have to be reviewed and voted upon by the latter planning group.

"You want us to send it to them to legislate themselves out of business?" Trustee Jeffrey Berman asked the village staff.

Village Manager Dane Bragg emphasized the benefits of the merger, noting that it would eliminate having two agendas, two sets of minutes and the publishing of two sets of legal notices.

"Combining those is really a huge benefit not only to us, but you're also streamlining that timeline to get things done," he said.

Another proposed change calls for eliminating the Appearance Review Team process that now comes prior to plan commission review. Instead, appearance review would take place as part of the new planning and zoning commission's duties.

The review team is responsible for making sure the appearance of a sign or structure is consistent with the area. The staff said this creates confusion when the review team signs off, for example, on a sign that is then denied by the zoning board.

Village President Jeffrey Braiman expressed reservations about doing away with the review team, but Trustee Andrew Stein suggested the process might work better without the team.

"The difference is going to be when this new commission is formed, everyone is going to be there at one time at night, where now, when there is an ART review, it's whoever you can get away from work in the middle of the day to look at it," he said.

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