I wanted to take a few minutes and update you all on what is going on at our office.
Like most people we are all learning how to work differently. Those who are able to work from home are doing so. We have less than 10 people at the office at all times. Usually only 6-8. The office has been closed to the public until further notice. Our office continues to provide all services as normal, albeit largely by electronic means (Zoom, email and telephone). The one exception to this is public hearings. Public hearings are suspended at this time. This means we have had to put a temporary hold on zoning changes and other required processes that affect future development. Public meetings are allowed to continue by virtual teleconferencing means by the Governor’s order and the KY Attorney General opinion. Our challenge is the Planning Commission “public hearing” requirement. The difference is the nature of our quasi-judicial proceedings that must allow public testimony and cross examination of that testimony prior to making a recommendation to the cities or the Fiscal Court. We are working on the feasibility and mechanics of how to have virtual court proceedings. The last thing we want is to slow down anything more than it already is, so we are working hard to continue to make things happen. An online payment option is now available via the Planning Commission’s website for all fees. Additionally, digital submissions and electronic signatures are being accepted.
Here’s an overview of some of the work our office oversees and how we’re accommodating amidst the rapid changes:
Board Meetings – As mentioned all of our board meetings are suspended until further notice. We are working on options for scheduling virtual public hearings at this time.
Staff/Office – With the implementation of working from home, we have come up with various accountability groups for our staff to implement during these times. We feel this will help keep interoffice communication flowing while we are in different locations for the foreseeable future. Staff has moved all meetings to virtual meetings via Zoom. Please call the office to setup a meeting or you need more information.
Development Review – Plats have continued to be reviewed, mostly electronically. We are leveraging technology to implement digital signatures with our sister agencies and are asking that plats be submitted electronically. If something needs to be dropped off at the office, it is left outside the door and we pick it up once the person leaves. Zoning Enforcement and construction inspections are continuing as normal with the exception that the inspectors are leaving from their home to the field. Development review and pre-application meetings have continued via online conferencing and seems to be working well.
Planning & Zoning – We continue to accept applications and are getting them ready to process once we can get back to having public hearings. We continue to work on getting the draft zoning ordinance changes out. We plan on beginning the update of the Smiths Grove Focal Point Plan and analyzing the Future Land Use Map for possible changes in the coming weeks.
GIS – We have been working with sister agencies to create a common map for various community data to be published online. We hope to have the next phase of this done within a few weeks, which will give us a community shared database to start making new maps from. This will allow the public and sister agencies to easily access most of the publicly available data via one source/site.
As always please feel free to contact us if you have questions. Stay safe!