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9/20/01 - Miami Today
Changes in building permit process offer time-saving options
By Victor Cruz
Miami-Dade County is ready to launch two additions to the building permit process
that are expected to speed the procedure for small as well as large projects.
One change will allow applicants to pay county workers to review building plans
on their own time, "shaving one-third of time it normally takes," said
Building Department Director Charles Danger.
Mr. Danger said he hopes to have the option in place by Oct. 1.
Preliminary estimates for the new option are planned to be $65 for each discipline
required for residential reviews and $115 for commercial projects, said Donna Romito,
building department support services director.
Under the system, she said, reviews that typically take up to 30 days could be done
in 20 days.
Permitting disciplines covered under the new procedure, Ms. Romito said, would include
electrical, mechanical, plumbing, building and structural plan reviews.
A second addition to the permitting system, planned to start in January, will create
an Office of Permit Management, where experienced managers will be assigned to individual
applications, said Assistant County Manager Alicia Cuervo Schreiber.
She said managers would communicate with personnel in various departments about
what attention a permit needs as it moves through the system.
The creation of the management office, combined with a concurrent review process,
Ms. Schreiber said, could shave 16 to 17 days off the average permitting time.
Also, the county plans to move the entire building department plus other staff associated
with the permitting process on Dec. 21 to a new office near Florida International
University's University Park Campus. The move is intended to centralize the process
and will relocate more than 500 county employees, Mr. Danger said.
The others workers involved will be from sections of the county's zoning, environmental
resource management, water & sewer, public works, clerk of courts, human resource
management and fire departments.
Ms. Romito said the relocation to 11856 Coral Way would consolidate cashier functions
and create a concurrent review process where all facets of permitting are under
With the move will come technological upgrades that will make it possible to get
building permits over the Internet for subsidiary trade functions outside of a master
permit for building, she said.
Such e-permits would be available for certain jobs, including selected roofing,
electrical, mechanical and plumbing work not directly related to the health and
safety of a building's occupants, Ms. Schreiber said.
The streamlining would cost several million dollars, Mr. Danger said. The move will
also create room to fill 26 vacant posts associated with permitting, Ms. Schreiber
Business development officials and county businesses continue to take advantage
of a fast-track program designed in 1999, county officials said. They said this
year six companies took advantage of the program, which promises businesses that
apply a maximum of 50 days to get a permit if they invest a minimum of $500,000
in the business, provide at least 50 jobs and participate in county or state incentive
programs such as those associated with the enterprise zone.
Avaya, a spin-off from Lucent Technologies in the Doral area; Blackstone Corp.,
which deals with machinery that handles transactions for prepaid calling cards;
Dollar-Rent-a-Car; Home Bank Mortgage, an Atlanta-based financial firm, and Precision
Response Corp., which opened a 600-employee firm in South Dade, all took advantage
of the program, said Joe Martinez vice president of development for the Beacon Council,
which played a role in developing the program.
"It was extremely helpful in processing and expediting the permitting process,"
said Mike Conlon, general manager of Dollar. He said his developers, Bollenback
Builders of Tampa, shaved two to three months off of the permitting time by opting
into the program.