County Manager Updates Chamber Land Use Committee on Permitting Improvements

Dena Diorio

Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio spoke earlier this week to the Charlotte Chamber’s Land Use Committee about ongoing efforts to improve the county’s permitting and inspections program.

REBIC, the Chamber and the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association have been jointly advocating for changes in the processes and culture at the Code Enforcement Division, and were very encouraged by Diorio’s update. Here are some of the key points from her remarks:

    A new policy has been implemented that requires field inspectors to call the project’s plan reviewer (or project manager) and attempt to resolve any discrepancies between approved plans and as-builts before leaving the job site and failing the inspection. Diorio said all plan reviewers have been issued iPhones to ensure they can be easily reached if away from their desk.Diorio acknowledged the need for improvement in the department’s customer service culture, and said that 4 annual training sessions would be conducted in 2015 for all members of the Code Enforcement staff.The department is establishing a new Customer Service Center in the Hal Marshall Building for first‐time and/or infrequent customers, such as small business owners and homeowners, who may be unfamiliar with the process and need additional assistance. The County is currently interviewing for two new Customer Service Liaison positions, and the new Center should be open by January. This initiative is expected to free up other staff to deal more quickly with more complex issues and requests.The County is assessing the feasibility of alternative options for scheduling inspections, and for better aligning inspection times with project size.The role of the Building-Development Commission will be evaluated, to ensure it provides effective oversight of the permitting and inspection process.The County website is being fully redesigned to make it more user-friendly, with a rollout expected to begin in December.A monthly Code Enforcement newsletter is being distributed to all customers, detailing available tools and noting any significant process or code changes.An outside consultant, the Gartner Group, has been reviewing processes across both the City and County, identifying opportunities for improved customer experience between the two systems. A final report is due by December.

REBIC commends Dena Diorio and other Mecklenburg County leaders for their ongoing efforts to address this important issue, and will continue to work with them in the months ahead.

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