City Council hires Quad Knopf to oversee Lemoore planning

By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor

The Lemoore City Council, in the wake of its decision to eliminate the city’s planning department, on Tuesday, voted 4-0 to hire Visalia engineering firm Quad Knopf to oversee the city’s planning needs for the foreseeable future, or until planning demands reach a point that Lemoore needs to reinstate its planning department.

Quad Knopf is familiar to city planners and officials. The engineering firm has long been serving as the city’s engineer and will now take on the city’s planning needs – at between 10-15 hours per week at an estimated annual cost of $100,000.

Quad Knopf, under the direction of Steve Brandt, Principal Entitlement Specialist with the engineering firm, presented the council with a scope of services and the costs he said are needed to keep the planning department functional.

The scope of services presented by Quad Knopf divide the planning functions into two tasks. Task one provides for the engineering firm to act as the city planner and to perform the more technical planning functions estimated at 10-15 hours per week depending on the amount of development occurring in the city. Task one is estimated to cost the city $100,000 for the fiscal year 2013-14. The cost could be higher depending on the level of planning services required.

Or it could cost less. Project Manager Judy Holwell presented the cost estimates to city officials. “It’s on an as needed basis,” she told members.

Task two entails overhauling the recently adopted zoning ordinance to make it easier to use by the development community, as well as city staff. The goal is to create a “cookie cutter” approach so that approval times can be reduced. This task is estimated to cost the city an additional $30,000.

Holwell indicated Quad Knopf will service the city on a month to month basis. The city can abrogate the agreement at any time if it desires to change firms or reestablish its own planning department.

Public Works Director David Wlaschin will oversee the planning department. Council members, earlier in the meeting, appointed the longtime city employee the new planning director.

When asked, Mayor Siegel admitted that the zoning ordinance was indeed recently overhauled, but that was with two council members who are no longer on the council.  “The city needs to be more business friendly,” he said. He also stated that he has received positive feedback from development interests about recent changes in the planning department.

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