New permit process software, improvements coming soon
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.