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Planning Department to streamline

Citing efficiency measures, the city’s planning and development department will reduce counter service hours in a bid to expedite service. It will also make a concerted effort to streamline the permitting process for minor applications and reduce the permit backlog that currently weighs down the department.

The move comes after requests by the City Council to find ways to increase customer service and free-up staff time.

“It’s kind of been part of our plan to find time for everyone to make long term changes to operations that will hopefully have a positive impact on customer service,” said Chris Wierzbicki, the deputy director of the department.

Counter service was typically offered Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The open service will now close at noon on Wednesday and Thursday. City hall will remain open, and planning personnel will accept pre-arranged appointments during those periods.

Time changes are the beginning of the overhaul that what will eventually include limited online permitting and expanded resources pertaining to green building.

Also being singled out are the city’s cumbersome permit applications.

“Our forms are a big part of the issue with applicants not understanding the process,” Wierzbicki said.

Application forms will be updated for user-friendliness and clarity and will provide enough information to be used as a training tool for new city employees. A pilot program for the simplified permits will begin next year starting with geotechnical and clearing permit forms – those permits are in the most demand by island residents.

“People get frustrated with those two proceses they don’t know what to expect or what to submit,” Wierzbicki said. “Hopefully this will have a impact on people’s expectations.”

Community Events, April 2014

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