As the Plan Commission considers recommendations to Restructuring of Development-Related Commissions, it is clear how a streamlined process can benefit developers and Village staff. Projects will move more quickly through the pipeline. There may be fewer meetings (a good thing). Apart from these two benefits, it is unclear how this process benefits interested residents. Stakeholder management can help.
The objective of stakeholder management is to build unity around development projects with all stakeholders. Every project has multiple and potentially competing interests, including those of the Village, the developer, local businesses, and the residents. I am writing about the important -- and often forgotten stakeholder – the residents.
Ever wonder why residents attending development plan commission meetings are usually upset or angry? According to behavioral experts, human beings are hard-wired to resist change. The primitive or "reptilian" part of our brains tends to interpret change as threatening, often leading to our "fight or flight" response. Change on its own often results in doubt and concern, amplified when the change, such as (re)development, impacts residents "close to home." Therefore, during the review process, residents' concerns must be front and center.
Stakeholder management doesn't mean that residents necessarily get their way or that it's ok for residents to disrespect others (i.e., developers, staff, commission members, etc.). It means that residents feel respected and represented during the development process and provided ample opportunity to participate as a valid stakeholder. The project's overall benefit includes less resistance based on fear and more collaboration by residents who could add value based on their intimate knowledge of the site under development. Time and money can be saved by all involved.
Below are some suggestions to incorporate a resident stakeholder approach into the plan development process:
1. Treat residents as valued stakeholders throughout the project.
2. Clearly and transparently articulate the project's value proposition from the point of view of the community and nearby residents.
3. Explain to residents the process and reasons for selecting a particular developer. Disclose upfront any relationship between the Village, a member of the Village Board, the staff, or any Glenview commission members.
4. Engage with residents very early in the development process so that developers can more easily accommodate changes.
5. Communicate with residents frequently, consistently, and transparently. Answer emails and phone calls.
6. Require staff and developers to meet with residents on-site to explain proposed plans and options.
7. Make architectural and engineering resources available to resident stakeholders to help explain plan documents in layman's terms. Update the plans after each round of decisions so that the public can access to latest versions.
8. Publicly disclose all financials related to the development in an understandable, comprehensive, and objective format.
9. Require that developers render plans from the perspective of surrounding neighbors so that people can visualize the project from their point of view.
10. Give residents more than the minimum 48-hour notice to understand all meeting documents.
11. Require that any staff reports be completely objective; staff should not perceive their role in the process as "pitching" for the developer instead of representing all the stakeholders, including residents.
12. Clearly articulate the demolition, preparation, and construction timeline to residents.
13. Commit to a single point of contact to resolve any issues during the project planning and execution.
As the Village actively pursues major downtown redevelopment, other projects will likely come forward, such as the Pearson and Signode properties' redevelopment. It would be a missed opportunity not to treat residents as stakeholders in the new process under consideration.