Saturday, October 19, 2002
Steamboat Springs The city and county are looking at ways to speed up the building permit process.
One of the solutions City Planning Director Wendie Schulenburg proposes is to have a stamp of approval from the city planning department before plans are submitted to the building department.
Schulenburg said delays and public frustrations come when builders do not understand or follow building code requirements for things like building heights, set backs or floor area coverage.
As the building permit process stands, when applications are submitted to the Routt County Regional Building Department they simultaneously go through the city planning department.
Schulenburg said delays could occur when plans do not meet city code requirements, which means after plans are adjusted they must go back through both the city and county departments.
Schulenburg said by having city approval first, those missed requirements could be caught, avoiding the time of back tracking through the county planning department.
"To be able to catch those issues early on will be important for applicants and help them," Schulenburg said.
Schulenburg sees the biggest advantage being for those building single-family homes or duplexes.
Although building plans must be approved by the city planning department even before a building permit is applied for, once the foundation is laid and the grading work is done changes are often made and the city must give another approval for the permit.
The plans must also go through the city's GIS, public works, finance and fire departments and the historic preservation officer.
By having city approval before handing in applications to the building department, Schulenburg also said builders could do the planning approval in the off-season and then get the permit before starting construction.
With city planning approval, Schulenburg predicts it should take a week or less to go through the building department.
"I think that this is going to stop a lot of delays and problems," Schulenburg said. "Radical yes, I don't think I have ever worked with a city that has done this."
Another solution to speeding up the process is to dedicate one day a week for a "One Stop Shop" approach for processing minor permits.
Schulenburg suggested bringing in the different departments where approval is needed in applications for decks, sheds, reroofing and other minor remodeling projects.
Another suggestions was the submission of multiple sets of plans, allowing each department to review them simultaneously with an online comment and sign-off sheet.
Schulenburg and Chief Building Officer Mark Marchus are going to take the idea on the road in the coming months talking to trade groups, contractors, real estate agents and architects.