New Burlington permitting office to provide one-stop shop for builders

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) A new one-stop permitting center has opened in the city of Burlington with the goal of helping make city government more efficient and easier to use for citizens.

In the past, a typical small project would have required the average Burlington homeowner to make multiple stops at the city's planning and zoning office, then inspection services on Pine Street, and then code enforcement -- all different offices in different locations. Now, its a one-stop shop.

"We are here to recognize and celebrate a long discussed, overdue change in government, to address the most persistent complaint about city government," said Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger at Wednesday's ribbon cutting of consolidated office.

"These were legitimate complaints about our system requiring multiple permits for one project, multiple departments, multiple locations, multiple staffers," said Councilor Chip Mason, D-Ward 5.

Weinberger says that in the past, routine projects had a 20 percent likelihood of getting through permitting the first time due to the complicated nature of the process. "It's been just a complex and fractured and challenging system for a long time," he said.

Now, all are under one roof on Pine Street under the new title -- the Department of Permitting and Inspections. Weinberger says the new system will not only save tax payers an estimated $100,000 annually, but also help improve the success rate of permit intake, closure and first-time success. "The permitting system is where the people of Burlington come to see the dreams that they have, or their homes and business, realized and built," he said.

Bill Ward, director of the new department, says having everyone in one building will help the people of Burlington. "Particularly, it will be our administrative staff that will guide the people through the process. People who are getting permits can get good information from them and everyone, checking each other's works along the way. We are going to improve all of those things," Ward said.

Brandon Salimi of Burlington says he's already a fan of the new system. "Having everything combined -- openness in terms of how the staff can connect to you with different resources, as opposed to transfer to different locations, makes it a whole lot easier," he said.

The mayor says the savings will be realized, in part, from not filling at least one job.