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For Immediate Release: 4/29/2014
Leggett Announces ePlans and ePermits; Online System Will Save Residents and Businesses Money, Time, Energy and Paper

Thanks to innovative initiatives in Montgomery County’s Department of Permitting Services (DPS), County residents and businesses can now use “ePlans” and “ePermits” to apply online and electronically file plans to obtain electrical, deck, new home and right-of-way permits. Customers can do this from the comfort of their own home or business – saving significant time, money, fuel and paper. Later this year, home additions and commercial plans and permits will be added.

“The Department of Permitting Services has made major strides in streamlining operations, improving customer satisfaction and protecting the environment -- while also serving the highest overall volume of customers the department has ever had,” said County Executive Isiah Leggett.

Surrounded by the typical mountain of paper plans required for a permit, Leggett called ePermits and ePlans the future for DPS.

“Doing business online is good for our residents and businesses, good for the environment and good for the County,” continued Leggett. “Making County services easy to access and navigate has been a major goal of my administration. I applaud the hard work of Diane Schwartz Jones and her staff in improving service delivery while serving more than 66,600 customers in their offices last year. Their innovations include maintaining next day inspections, streamlining fire safety system inspections at less expense to the customer, minimizing times for development reviews, and moving the department into the world of electronic permits and plans.”

“ePlans,” a web-based application for electronic plan submission and review, together with “apply online” or “ePermits” will reduce the County’s carbon footprint and conserve precious resources in addition to saving time for customers. It will eliminate volumes of paper and cut vehicle emissions and gas consumption as customers will no longer need to make multiple trips to DPS’ office.

Last year, DPS issued 4,339 permits for new homes and residential additions. In just two months, 35 percent of applications for new home permits have been submitted as ePlans and 50 percent of all electrical permits issued were ePermits.

The electronic system is expected to yield the following annual benefits, assuming 3,000 ePermits reviewed and 12,000 ePlans issued:

• REDUCE 312,000 miles in car trips to DPS;

• SAVE 20,800 gallons of gas;

• SAVE $71,760 in fuel costs;

• AVOID 12,480 hours of driving time;

• ELIMINATE 5,119 pounds of carbon monoxide and 1,993 pounds of hydrocarbons; and

• SAVE 239 trees, equivalent to 2,491,567 sheets of paper or 10 tons of paper.

“Our customers can apply for these permits anywhere, anytime,” said DPS Director Diane Schwartz Jones. “These customer service improvements are part of our commitment to keeping ‘Montgomery Open for Business.’ Our ongoing efforts are streamlining County processes so that our customers save time and money and can get their businesses safely open and homes safely occupied and enjoyed. For example, ePermits for electrical permits has enabled DPS to completely eliminate a backlog for electrical services and to move resources to other areas where support is needed.”

“The ePlans system allows the review process to be more transparent, as we have the ability to monitor the status of a review online,” said Matthew Pohlhaus, designer with Rodgers Consulting Inc.

“Online services are critical for small business owners,” said Grant Gotlinger, owner of Got Electric, LLC. “It’s worth the investment of time to learn the system.”

Other recent DPS improvements include:

• Rolled back automation fees from 10 percent to five percent – a 50 percent reduction for all permits and licenses, saving customers an estimated $2 million annually.

• Reduced wood frame, midrise construction fees after working extensively with the construction industry to review fee calculations for this type of construction. This change resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars of permit fee savings per project.

• Responding to business concerns, Leggett transferred fire safety inspections for new construction from the Department of Fire and Rescue Services to DPS. This has eliminated up to six weeks of delay for new businesses to open and, in the first two years, resulted in an estimated $1 million in savings for local businesses.

For more information about the Department of Permitting Services, call 311 or visit the website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/permittingservices.

 

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Release ID: 14-182
Media Contact: Sue Tucker 240-777-6507

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