An effort to streamline what is sometimes a tedious and time-consuming building permit process is moving forward after city and county officials and the public heard suggested improvements Monday.
The process is at the halfway point, with two of four steps completed, said Don Elliott, a consultant for Clarion Associates. Fort Wayne and Allen County officials hired Clarion to help align and streamline permitting legislation.
Nearly 300 people responded to a public survey last year, with 73 percent stating they were unclear how permits and applications are processed, Elliott said.
The group has identified zoning ordinance barriers and eliminated duplication between city and county ordinances, Elliott said. Next, the Department of Planning Services codes must be reviewed and realigned – a huge task that will not be completed until next spring. Last, the fee structure will be reviewed and updated, he said.
A simple building project may require nearly a dozen applications and forms, proper permits and rezoning, and can take months to complete.
A sparse group – the majority made up of city and county officials – attended a public meeting Monday night, held after a session earlier in the day involving 14 city and county planning and zoning officials, to hear about possible changes.
Recommendations for expediting the permit process for both the city and county included allowing mixed use development; revising and clarifying the waiver process and the development of plan procedures and standards; delegating more authority to staff; fewer public meetings; and reducing timelines for zoning appeals.
Elliott also suggested Fort Wayne shorten timelines for secondary plans and that the county formalize its site plan review process to match the citys timeline.
He also said the planning department needs to formulate standardized applications, and make it clear that the application must be complete, or extra fees and delays could be expected.
The Joint Operating Permit Board, which oversees the project, hired Clarion Associates for $169,760 and Briljent LLC as project manager for $285,420 in December.
The city and county are splitting the costs for the work, and have approved a combined $1.4 million to help improve the permitting process.