Town Hires Two Third-Party Reviewers for Site Plans

The Planning Board learned last week that the town now has two third-party review consultants.

Board member Lynn Wiles asked about the status of third party review at the board’s Wednesday, May 7 meeting.

Town Planner Cynthia May said the town now has two review consultants, Canada-based Stantec, and Tighe and Bond of Portsmouth.

She said each firm will alternate reviews, unless it appears that one firm is getting larger contracts over the other.

Board member Leitha Reilly asked if the selection had been discussed by the board, and Chairman Art Rugg said the decision was made by the town manager.

“Interesting.” Reilly said.

According to Associate Planner Jaye Trottier, the Request For Proposals (RFP) for Planning and Engineering Professional Review Services was advertised in a variety of places.

“The RFP, prepared by staff and overseen by the Town Manager, gave approximately one month for firms to respond,” Trottier said. “Four proposals were submitted by the Feb. 7 deadline. The firms responding included Dubois and King, Horsley Witten Group, Stantec, and Tighe & Bond. After reviewing all the proposals, it was determined that all four firms would be interviewed by staff and the Town Manager, plus the Planning Board chair.”

Trottier said the interviews took place March 5 and 6.

“Using a prepared scorecard with specific proposal review criteria, including experience and personnel; knowledge of engineering, construction and planning; mechanisms for timely execution of duties; and proposal format and quality, the review team evaluated each prospective consultant’s presentation, and the two highest scoring teams were Stantec and Tighe & Bond,” Trottier said.

Trottier noted the Town Council had requested the RFP include fee schedules so that costs could be considered.

“The two top firms had higher cost proposals than the others, so staff went back and asked both firms to look at ways that costs might be reduced without compromising service to the town,” Trottier said. “Both came back with satisfactory cost control measures, so the next step was for contracts to be finalized. The contracts were reviewed by staff and the town’s attorney several times before they were both finally ready for signature in the middle of April.” Trottier said.

Trottier said no new development applications were submitted until this week.

“Applications will be sent to the third party consultants on an alternating basis as they are submitted by the Planning and Economic Development staff, with an eye on the scope of each application to keep the reviews as equitable as possible,” Trottier explained. “It is staff’s understanding that a developer can also make a request to the Planning Board for a specific review consultant, with justification.”

Rugg said the town charter had specified that the hiring of third-party reviewers was under the auspices of the Town Manager.

“The Town Charter in essence says that it is the Town Manager that is in control of all bidding and so forth through the administrative code,” Rugg said. “Previously we weren’t following the charter the way it should have been. So I know when the Town Council brought Kevin (Smith) on, we had several conversations about it, and what we did want was to put it out to as wide an area as possible, looking at the lowest cost for the best engineering.”

In December, the Planning Board had discussed the Town Council’s request for two third-party reviewers on development projects. The discussion ended with the board asking Smith to share with the Town Council the Planning Board’s displeasure with having done work to find a third-party reviewer earlier in the year, only to have it rejected by the Council. In May 2013, the Planning Board’s choice of Stantec as the single third-party reviewer was discussed and rejected by the Council, with that choice having been made without price involved.

The fee schedule for Stantec is $189 per hour for Robert Corning, who is Principal/Practice Leader of Architecture; Joseph Uglevich, Senior Principal Leader wastewater; Theo Kindermans, PUD Review, Site Planning/Development Review; and Edward Bourget, Architectural Review; $162 per hour for Gerard J. Fortin Principal Project Manager; $129 per hour for Senior Planning Consultant Scott Collard, Senior Landscape Architect Tom Emery, Senior Transportation/Traffic Engineer Andre Betit, Senior Engineer/Wetland Scientist Michael Leach and Senior Traffic Engineer David DeBaie; $115 per hour for Geotechnical Engineer Trey Dykstra; $108 per hour for Project Engineer Aaron LaChance; $85 per hour for Engineer Timothy Adams, and Civil/Site Plan Review Jon Bourque and $55 per hour for administrative work.

Stantec reimbursable expenses include 56 cents per mile for mileage; 25 cents per digital photo and 60 cents per square foot for printing.

The fee schedule for Tighe and Bond is for engineers and scientists: Principal $175, Principal Engineer $125, Senior Project Manager, Senior Engineer and Project Manager $115 per hour; Senior Landscape Architect, Project Engineer and Staff Engineer 3 $100 per hour; Staff Engineer 2 $90 per hour; Staff Engineer 1 $83; Senior Planner $118 per hour; Project Planner $95 per hour; Planner $80 per hour; Senior Compliance Specialist $125 per hour; Project Compliance Specialist $93 per hour; Compliance Specialist 2 $85 per hour; Compliance Specialist 1 $75 per hour; Principal Environmental Scientist $125 per hour; Sr. Environmental Scientist $120 per hour; Project Environmental Scientist $96 per hour; Environmental Scientist 2$79 per hour and Environmental Scientist 1 $73 per hour.

For GIS (Geographic Information Systems) services the prices range from $55 per hour for GIS Support to $160 per hour for the GIS Director, and support services range from $60 per hour for Engineering Technician to $113 per hour for a Senior Designer/Drafter.

The Tighe and Bond rates are effective until April 1, 2015.

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