Consultant Recommends Structural Overhaul of City/County Development Review & Building Permit Pr

A report released this week on the development review and construction permitting by Gartner Consulting is recommending substantive changes in the governance structure, which is currently split between the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

The report’s recommendations were presented yesterday to the City’s Transportation and Planning Committee, with Mayor Dan Clodfelter, City Manager Ron Carlee, and most of the City Council in attendance. A second presentation will be made today to the County Board of Commissioners during an afternoon Policy Briefing.

The report, which you can download HERE, is the result of more than six months of stakeholder interviews and independent assessments of processes in both the City and County that oversee development plan review, construction permitting and building inspections. It stems from a series of letters delivered early this year to the City Council and Board of Commissioners from REBIC, the Apartment Association and the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, which called for improvements in the timeliness and effectiveness of the overall permitting process.

Currently there is a lack of coordination and collaboration between the City and County and governance does not effectively span City and County resulting in efforts that should be coordinated being performed unilaterally, from execution of daily tactical operations to strategic initiatives.”— Gartner Report

The most significant recommendation in the Gartner report calls for the creation of a “unified development services governance structure” to improve city/county collaboration on plan review, permitting and inspections. The report suggests the creation of a ‘Unified Development Services Committee’, comprised of senior managers from both the City and County, along with representatives from the six Towns and the development industry. The goal of the new committee would be to achieve a “seamless City/County/Town land development and building construction services partnership, organized, governed and incentivized to provide high-quality service delivery that consistently exceeds customer expectations.”

Lack of a joint City/County philosophy and the current approach to customer service activities with a finite staff compound the disconnect with customer base seeking responsiveness, simplicity and human interaction.”— Gartner Report

The report also makes a number of other recommendations to improve the permitting process, including:

    Redesign Unified Customer Service Model and Tailor to Different Customer SegmentsEvaluate Demand and Current Workload to Ensure Adequate Staffing LevelsProvide Improved Access to Development Services Information and Educational ToolsConduct Analysis of Co-location Options for City and County StaffReview the role of the County’s Building/Development CommissionPlan and Manage Technology Collaboratively to Address Gaps, Redundancy, and InefficiencyIntegrate or Consolidate City and County Permitting Systems and Plan Review SystemsImprove Consistency of Code Interpretation and Application, and Drive Accountability of Both Staff and CustomersEstablish Quality Control and Accountability MetricsEstablish Customer Satisfaction Metrics

REBIC will continue to work with both Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte in the coming months to evaluate and implement the recommendations in the Gartner Report, with the goal of achieving lasting improvements in the permitting and inspections process.

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