One of the most damaging complaints that can be lodged against any level of government is that it makes it harder than it needs to be to get the permits, licenses and other approvals it demands of individuals or businesses.

Resentment created by an overly complex, repetitive and time-consuming application and approval process can lead people to cancel plans to build a home or commercial structure, start or expand a business, or otherwise do something that adds value to the community.

In fact, cumbersome procedures can drive those people to friendlier towns, or even other states, depriving the losing jurisdiction of the taxes they would pay and the jobs they would create.

That’s why it’s a significant advance that Portland’s City Council has unanimously approved a rewrite of the city’s site plan review process aimed at rationalizing and simplifying the application and approval process for development projects.

The changes, officials said, were largely in accord with recommendations by the Portland Community Chamber, which has long complained about the development process being needlessly complex.

Now, after two years of work by the city’s planning staff, the city has rules that set standards, benchmarks and time lines to get projects accepted by the city.

Some concepts may require more preparation and expense for developers before projects are submitted.

But the trade-off is that better-prepared ideas will spend less time jumping hurdles to be approved, and be less likely to have the city add last-minute demands that can boost costs and delay construction.


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