Chesterfield County: Streamlining building permit process

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - The paperwork, the planning, the lines...

"But then you're sent down the hall, around the corner, across the street, to another window, then you're sent back around the corner, down the street, up the street," homeowner Merrille Aquart has done it all to get to this point. Her porch and 1500 square foot addition got started after she had the permits in hand.

"Filing the papers and running around, things that needed to be signed; it was a little over my head so I did pass it off to my contractor," she said.

But Chesterfield County doesn't want to give people Merrille's roller coaster of an experience. On September 1 a walk-thru process will begin.

"That enables residents, as well as business owners to come in with certain types of building permits and sign permits, sit down with a staff person for 15 minutes -- most likely walk out with their approved permit," said Greg Allen, a planning administrator for Chesterfield County.

Faster turn around time for permits is one thing, getting your site plans approved is another: enter the expedited site plan review process. Instead of waiting your turn, if your plans are ready to go, so is your approval.

"We might get them approved as short as a month, whereas the normal process might take 4 to 5 months," said Allen.

These two short-cuts begin Tuesday. Chesterfield is also offering a fee holiday for certain items.

"Any fees for re-zoning and site plan applications up to $8,000 are basically forgiven," he said.

The application fee will run $200 until July 1, 2010. It's just for the application, other incidentals will still need to be paid for.

"For a developer, that's jut a huge support during these economic times of having the county say we believe your project is a worthwhile project," Allen said.

So whether it's a job for a weekend warrior... "It's worth it. It's really worth it. It makes your home look wonderful," Merrille said.

Or a commercial property, the county is hoping the changes will change the current state of our economy.

"We want to get as many people working, at the same time all the materials purchased from the stores like Lowe's and Home Depot, they're selling products and that keeps those businesses at work too," said Allen.

Chesterfield County Planning Department: 804-748-1050

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