Planning to charge for re-review of building permits
The county Planning Department has begun charging fees for repeated reviews of building permit applications, with the first re-review costing $250.
“The repeated reviews of building permits is one of the main reasons that we do not get through our permit reviews as quickly as the public would like,” said Deputy Planning Director Michele Chouteau McLean. “We hope that this fee structure will be a deterrent to incomplete or inadequate plans.”
“It also puts the burden on us to make sure that our first review is complete and thorough, and that we inform applicants clearly of what we need to give our approval,” she continued. “This will benefit all applicants overall and will improve the department’s efficiency in processing.”
Building permits typically are routed through various departments to check for compliance with county codes and rules, and the Planning Department reviews applications for land use compliance.
Only 10 percent of building permits received by the department are approved on first review, said the county news release Friday. About 20 percent of permits require a second review and the remaining 70 percent require three or more reviews.
In January, the County Council gave the department the ability to charge for additional reviews, the news release said. The first review is free; the second will cost $250; the third, $500; and subsequent reviews, $1,000 each.
The department must be diligent in providing the applicant with the additional information needed for approval to minimize additional reviews, the news release said. If the department fails to catch a problem with an item during a review and fails to inform the applicant, then no charge will be assessed for the additional review of that item, the news release said.
“When we tell an applicant that more information is needed, we will be thorough in describing everything that we need and will also inform them of the fee structure for additional reviews,” said McLean. “That should limit the third and fourth reviews.
“We should be able to approve most permits on the second review if applicants provide everything that we tell them we need.”
If only 10 percent of applications are approved on the first pass, the department estimates generating $700,000 in revenue annually, though the department is hoping the fees will offer a deterrent effect, McLean said.
“We are not looking for a revenue source; we are hoping that this will improve the quality of the plans that we receive so that we can approve many more permits on our first review, which means that we can get to all of our reviews more quickly,” McLean said. “We have tried other ways to accomplish this, and hopefully this one will work.”
The ordinance took effect Jan. 9 but the department did not begin charging for additional reviews until the beginning of March.
For more information, contact McLean at 270-175 or email her at email@example.com.