Suggestions made to ease building permit process

June 26th, 2012

News Coverage:

Published: June 26, 2012 3:00 a.m.

Suggestions made to ease building permit process

Vivian Sade | The Journal Gazette

An effort to streamline what is sometimes a tedious and time-consuming building permit process is moving forward after city and county officials and the public heard suggested improvements Monday.

The process is at the halfway point, with two of four steps completed, said Don Elliott, a consultant for Clarion Associates. Fort Wayne and Allen County officials hired Clarion to help align and streamline permitting legislation.

Nearly 300 people responded to a public survey last year, with 73 percent stating they were unclear how permits and applications are processed, Elliott said.

The group has identified zoning ordinance barriers and eliminated duplication between city and county ordinances, Elliott said. Next, the Department of Planning Services codes must be reviewed and realigned – a huge task that will not be completed until next spring. Last, the fee structure will be reviewed and updated, he said.

A simple building project may require nearly a dozen applications and forms, proper permits and rezoning, and can take months to complete.

A sparse group – the majority made up of city and county officials – attended a public meeting Monday night, held after a session earlier in the day involving 14 city and county planning and zoning officials, to hear about possible changes.

Recommendations for expediting the permit process for both the city and county included allowing mixed use development; revising and clarifying the waiver process and the development of plan procedures and standards; delegating more authority to staff; fewer public meetings; and reducing timelines for zoning appeals.