Dublin's planning and zoning commission voted last week to amend its work session process.

Dublin's planning and zoning commission voted last week to amend its work session process.

During a six-month trial, the commission used work sessions to review 31 cases, the majority of which were revised and later approved.

The non-binding work sessions were intended to provide an informal introduction to proposed projects and allow for increased collaboration between all participating entities. It also was supposed to allow for more information sharing, discussion of issues and determining solutions without incurring significant cost and time delays, according to the city.

Commission members debated the process for more than an hour Aug. 21, listing examples from various cases in the past six months and debating the success rate of the corresponding work session.

Commission chairman Todd Zimmerman opposed keeping the work session, stating the process takes longer and the commission doesn't get the quality product it used to.

"We'd like to get a little better product, but I feel like a lot of times the applicant is holding the ace," he said. "He's not going to throw it out there unless we draw it out of him."

Commission member Kevin Walter thought the work session was a value added service to the planning process and the city was ending up with a better product in the end.

By the end of the night, the commission agreed to alter the criteria for the session and to refer to it as an informal review.

The changes will take the city several weeks to implement. The process will be reviewed at the end of the year.

City staff will be more selective about which cases are heard informally. The applicant will no longer have time for presentation and only will be allowed to answer questions by the commission.

"I think the work session by and large robs you of your abilities, your experience and your expertise," said commission vice chair Chris Amorose Groomes. "I think we're teaching people they don't have to listen to you. They will come to us and we'll give you input and you will regurgitate it."

Groomes said that certain cases shouldn't be heard in a work session, including those that are particularly emotional to residents.

"Something that is going to be publicly controversial should never come to a work session," Groomes said. "I don't want to be powerless to render a decision. It will be a waste of everyone's time and we'll have to repeat the process all over again."

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