By Zack Orsborn
TUPELO – Tupelo Developmental Services plans to cut the time it takes to submit a commercial building permit application in half by implementing new software that allows developers to submit plans digitally.
Shane Hooper, director of Development Services, found the need to ease miscommunication after taking a trip with his department to Huntsville, Alabama, in August to gain ideas on developing permit processes.
He said he wants to cut the process down from 48 days to 21 days. His department plans to finalize their software selection in the spring before presenting the idea to the city during the next budget cycle.
“Our hope is one day that people won’t have to come to the third floor to make an application for a permit,” Hooper said. “All the pieces to the permit can be submitted online. There was no way to really know when applications were turned in and no real quality control.”
Currently, developers and contractors follow a lengthy checklist before submitting a permit application. After the submission, at least seven departments have to meet and check off on the plans.
The checklist, implemented eight months ago, has already sped the process along, according to Hooper.
Though not a requirement, Development Services began allowing contractors to send in digital versions of the drawings.
“Instead of people bringing up a big roll of drawings, we encourage a digital version,” he said. “When architects do their drawings now, they don’t have draftsmen sitting back there with a piece of paper. It’s all digital.”
Contractors can get to work sooner when the applications are submitted online, Hooper said.
“When the contractors go to work, construction workers get paid,” he said. “When the project is done, the sooner that project goes from a non-revenue source for the city to a revenue source for the city, tax-wise.”
Hooper said he wants to attract developers to keep coming back to build in Tupelo.
“Because Tupelo is a vibrant environment for business, people want to build here and do things here,” he said. “If a person is coming in here from out of town, the availability of our check list online cuts down the overhead and expense for them. We hope to make it even better.”