City of Grand Junction takes process for developers online

Photo by Gretel Daugherty—Lisa Cox, planning manager for the city of Grand Junction, demonstrates the software that has been integral to the city’s effort to put the planning and development process online.

It’s a common complaint among developers: The city’s planning process causes projects to move at a snail’s pace.

Any new development inside city limits requires developers to pass through a host of review hurdles from a number of agencies, including city government.

Now, developers can go online with the city of Grand Junction to see exactly what stage their development plans are in. They also can see which agency is responsible for signing off on plans at that time, whether it’s the architect, the owner, planning commission, a federal review agency or an engineer.

By spring, the public should be able to log onto a planning website to apply for permits or to research local developments.

The new software called Energov Solutions aims to streamline the development process for applicants, speeding up the permitting process by weeks, saving money and eliminating the need for stacks of paperwork.

“People want more information sooner,” Grand Junction Planning Manager Lisa Cox said. “The bottom line is that we save them time and money.”

The movement to make the Planning Department paperless has been ongoing since 2009, Cox said. At that time the city’s Information Technology Department began the process of converting planning documents to online formats. In January,  the city converted to the Energov software and gradually has been working it into planning operations.

As the city’s internal reviewing process goes paperless, the public access component is behind schedule.

The city will notify residents when that access is available, probably offering a series of training sessions for interested folks, Cox said.

“Probably one of the biggest things is people can find out what’s going on in their neighborhood,” she said. “You can go online and get all the information you’re expecting.”

Having development firms create PDFs or offer jump drives with information instead of printing out multiple packets of applications will save on paper costs. It saves on postage and the time it takes for forms to be mailed, sometimes across the state, Cox said.

Managing records online creates less need for storage in city buildings. Having information at workers’ fingertips helps expedite the creation of fliers to inform the public about developments in their area. It also will help planners more quickly pull up information about developments, such as how the property is zoned, whether it’s in a flood plain and other information available on its Geographic Information System application. Planners formerly accessed several documents to retrieve that information.

Developers also can submit information to the city on a 24-hour basis, not simply during open hours at City Hall.

“The way the IT department put it, it puts people online instead of in line,” Cox said.


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