St. Cloud needs more planners, inspectors to keep up with building boom

After rejecting a proposed moratorium on residential development, St. Cloud's City Council will consider a request from its planning department to add more staff.

The City Council voted 3-2 on Feb. 9 against the six-month moratorium that would have largely mirrored a policy enacted by Osceola County. After a lengthy discussion, council members concluded the better way of addressing growth would be to hire more plan reviewers and inspectors to deal with increasing demands on the department. 

City Manager Bill Sturgeon told GrowthSpotter the city is growing at an unprecedented rate. The building and permit activity for January increased by 152 percent over the same period last year.

"This has resulted in increased development activity and simultaneously has increased the work volume for staff in the Building Department, Planning & Zoning Department and the Building and Fire Safety Inspections," he said. "Therefore, it has become necessary to make an adjustment to the agency’s capacity by increasing staffing levels."

Sturgeon will ask the council to approve a $293,800 budget amendment Thursday so he can advertise the positions immediately.

The funding should cover the cost of adding three planners and a fire inspector, which should allow the city to maintain its level of customer service. Sturgeon said creating the new positions is more cost effective than hiring outside consultants or paying overtime, and it should prevent employee burnout in the department. 

St. Cloud's Joint Planning Agreement with Osceola County extends north along the entire Narcoossee corridor to the Orange County line and west to Lake Tohopekaliga. 

The beginning planner would peform zoning verifications and building permit applications. The two Level II planners would receive and process land development applications and zoning reviews. 

The increased building activity from projects such as Hanover Lakes, Old Hickory and Tohoqua are creating demand for an additional fire inspector, who would report to the city's fire marshal. 

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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