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Town makes improvements to permitting process

January 3, 2019

GREENWICH — A months-long effort to streamline the permitting process in the town building, zoning and public works departments, is starting to bear fruit.

Initiatives that have been introduced include uniform counter times of 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and giving applicants the option of paying by credit card in all departments. An effort also is underway to make the permitting process clearer.

“One of the best products (of this effort) has been the coordination across the departments on a variety of projects,” Blaize Levitan, the town’s senior management analyst, said on Wednesday. “Essentially that is going to create an experience, I think, (in which) more and more people will be able to interact with Town Hall and interact with government instead of having to run back and forth from department to department because you’re not sure where you’re supposed to go. It’s a better user experience.”

As part of the processes, launched in July, employees have been getting new training. Improvements to the permitting process — which include efforts to make the town website more helpful — are to be implemented through a series of steps into July 2020.

People now also have the option of scheduling an appointment — after 1 p.m. — with officials in the building and zoning departments, which should cut down on lines, waiting and the need for return trips.

More information about the first two quarters of the plan’s implementation is available at https://www.greenwichct.gov/1408/Permit-Process-Improvement, as is the consultant’s report from KJR Consulting that helped launch the initiative last year.

The Building Department is to have new software installed by the end of March, followed by other town departments.

“It will create so much better efficiency internally and externally it has the capability of allowing for online permitting,” Levitan said.

That is to be phased in over the course of the year, starting with online filings for simple matters like electrical work or new HV/AC systems, with the goal of making it available for building permits in the second half of 2019.

In putting together it’s report, KJR Consulting did a survey which Levitan said showed an overall high satisfaction with the friendliness and professionalism of town staff but also areas in need of improvement, such as wait times and the clarity of the process.

To further get feedback from residents and people using the departments, Levitan said a survey tool will likely be put into place on the website, probably during the summer.

Improving the permit process has been a priority of First Selectman Peter Tesei who made it part of his Community First initiative to get the town to be more responsive to resident needs.

“The objective is to establish a culture of friendly and informative and efficient service to our residents and customers both externally as well as internally,” Tesei said last July.

kborsuk@greenwichtime.com

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