Owners and developers of projects can go
online and type in barcodes and passwords to track timelines. "There's
no more using the city as an excuse," says Cooper. "Everyone knows
where the projects are at, and that has made the owners and developers
The building community in Henderson has been
delighted with the changes. "The DSC has drastically streamlined the
permitting process," says John Ramos, vice president of operations for
Harsch Investment Properties' Las Vegas Regional office. "They have
shaved weeks and even months off the permitting process, which has
allowed us to start our projects sooner and, in turn, has made our
business more successful."
In fact, Henderson's DSC has been so
successful that other municipalities around the country - including
Tucson, Arizona; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Sacramento County,
California - are all taking a look at how to implement a similar system
in their communities.
Teamwork is Key
of the technology in the world won't help, however, if the people
involved in the permitting process fail to do their jobs. So many
municipalities are re-educating their staffs to be cross-trained in
varied areas of the permitting process, thereby making them more
valuable and efficient team members. Educating the "clients" involved
in the permitting process has also proven to be valuable. "We have
found education to be very important, so we have workshops and forums
for engineers and architects," says Cooper. "We also found having an
ongoing advisory board to be very popular."
And in today's
fast-paced construction climate, architects, building officials, and
field inspectors need to be up to date on current building codes and
the local permitting processes in their communities. "The challenges
are still there because there are a dozen different departments that
have to write off or proof your plans," says Cooper. He lists police
and fire departments, utilities, and public works, to name just a few.
"Everyone has input into your plans."
So developers, builders,
inspectors, and municipal permitting departments are just a few of the
constituencies that are going to have to support changes in the
regulatory process going forward - as are architects. "We are so busy
that architects have to turn in their plans like an `A' paper;
otherwise it's going to get rejected," says Cooper. "If the plans are
perfect, they will go into the system quicker." And that can streamline