Most of us are feeling good about the new year, but those with a commercial building project getting started in 2021 have something else to smile about—the Charles County Permitting Department’s new Online Permit Guide. This customized web program will detail the permitting process and set the expectations for customers by outlining steps for a commercial building permit based on a project's location and information the customer provides.
Cathy Reisinger, Chief of Administrative Operations, says about the new online guide, “Our goal is to be more customer friendly, where people can get the information they need, specific to their project, at a click of a few buttons, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This guide will hopefully save the customer from having to make multiple phone calls and contacting multiple agencies and departments as we’ve tried to cover all of the bases for them.”
With the new online guide, the permit applicant enters an address and answers a series of questions about the project. The software produces a customized guide that lists the requirements and fees that apply to that project, creating a clear process to follow from day one. The guide also simplifies complex regulations for users and provides them with a listing of the documents that must be submitted throughout the permitting process.
"We're trying to make it more efficient for customers, but also for our staff so that they can spend less time on the phone answering questions that can easily be answered by running a permit guide and more time keeping the permits moving through the approval process,” said Reisinger.
According to Sarah Sandy, PGM Special Projects Manager, the previous process to apply for a permit involved getting a PDF that included every piece of information that one could possibly need, whether it applied to them or not. Applicants would then have to meet with staff, who would tell them what to do.
Getting the new system up and running has been a time-intensive project. The commercial guides have been available since September, and the department is currently building the residential guides. Those will be released in the next couple months.
About the tool, Sandy said, “It’s really starting to pick up now. More requests are coming through, but we’re also seeing that people want ones for residential projects. We’re trying to push out the most common residential guides because the demand is there.”
Simplifying the County’s permitting process was also a part of the Economic Development Department’s 5-Year Strategic Plan, and we congratulate our partners at Planning and Growth Management on successfully implementing this project. For more information about Charles County’s online permitting, visit here.