New per­mit process soft­ware, im­prove­ments com­ing soon

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

To bet­ter serve you, in the com­ing months the Depart­ment of Plan­ning and Growth Man­age­ment will adopt new soft­ware — En­er­gov and Blue­beam — to au­to­mate the plan re­view, build­ing re­view and en­gi­neer­ing ap­proval process for land devel­op­ment per­mits. The soft­ware pro­grams will stream­line and speed up the per­mit process, al­low­ing res­i­dents, builders, and en­gi­neers to sub­mit per­mit ap­pli­ca­tions on­line.

Un­der the cur­rent sys­tem, valu­able time is spent wait­ing on doc­u­ments in tran­sit, per­form­ing se­rial file re­views, track­ing changes be­tween re­vi­sions, writ­ing re­ports and send­ing cor­re­spon­dence. With the new soft­ware in place, staff can re­ceive and re­view files simultaneously, which will speed up re­view time. The soft­ware will track the progress of the ap­pli­ca­tion so re­view­ers and ap­pli­cants can see the cur­rent per­mit sta­tus, and eas­ily com­pare changes from one plan ver­sion to an­other. The re­viewer can markup items that need to be cor­rected, and send back to the ap­pli­cant on­line. Th­ese im­prove­ments will fast-track the per­mit­ting process so res­i­dents can spend more time on their build­ing project in­stead of in line at the per­mits counter.

Build­ing plans of­ten re­quire mul­ti­ple re­vi­sions be­fore be­ing ap­proved. The soft­ware will store ar­chi­tec­tural draw­ings, and al­low for easy ac­cess. When plans are ap­proved, site devel­op­ment and build­ing per­mit­ting take place. Con­trac­tor li­cens­ing will be com­put­er­ized and fees may be paid by credit card. When con­struc­tion be­gins, the new soft­ware will al­low county in­spec­tors to sched­ule their in­spec­tions, plan the most ef­fi­cient route us­ing ge­o­graphic in­for­ma­tion sys­tems, and use mo­bile de­vices to do field in­spec­tions.

Doc­u­ments will be archived within the soft­ware pro­grams for eas­ier retrieval and print­ing. As a re­sult, ad­di­tional stor­age and per­mit record man­age­ment costs will no longer be re­quired. Also, pa­per and ink con­sump­tion will de­crease. If printed copies are needed, the data­base can be eas­ily searched, and records printed. Res­i­dents can even print re­ceipts, doc­u­ments, and records from the com­fort of their homes.

The soft­ware is ex­pected to in­clude a re­port­ing fea­ture to in­crease trans­parency for the pub­lic. The re­ports can show trend lines and fo­cus on spe­cific types of per­mits. There will be a cit­i­zen ac­cess por­tal avail­able so res­i­dents can re­view their per­mit’s progress and re­ceive feed­back from their sub­mis­sions quickly. The por­tal will also pro­vide an elec­tronic re­port­ing op­tion for zon­ing code and nui­sance vi­o­la­tions.

Once the En­er­gov con­tract is signed, the sys­tem may take up to 18 months to in­stall and test, which in­cludes train­ing staff and de­vel­oper ap­pli­cants. Home­own­ers fil­ing for sim­ple per­mits will not be re­quired to file their per­mits elec­tron­i­cally. Ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion on the per­mit­ting process up­grades will be posted on the county’s web­site at www. CharlesCoun­tyMD.gov.

Peter Alu­otto is the Charles County direc­tor of plan­ning and growth man­age­ment.

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