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New system to improve county’s plan review, inspection process
Digital system replaces paper in Development Services department

Yavapai County senior plans examiner Carrie Holmes demonstrates the new digital plan review that will be implemented for building plans in the next 90 days in Prescott on Friday, May 3.  (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Yavapai County senior plans examiner Carrie Holmes demonstrates the new digital plan review that will be implemented for building plans in the next 90 days in Prescott on Friday, May 3. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Yavapai County Development Services is transitioning from its old paper-based plan review and permitting system into a new state-of-the-art digital system.

Currently being implemented in a test environment, it should be fully up and running in 90 days, said David Williams, director of Development Services.

The new system will allow homeowners and contractors to submit plans from their office to the county offices where the permit technician will review for completeness to make sure all requirements are met. The tech then routes the plans to all the individual reviewers.

“So they won’t even need to come in. They can do it all online,” Williams said. “Each reviewer gets it the same day and time. Comments will be sent out automatically to the homeowner as well as the contractor.”

The software, CitizenServe, helps streamline the workflow, simplify things, and provide an enhanced layer of communication in the building process, he added.

Moving from a paper-heavy system to a digitized system will save contractors time and money. Those who still want to sit down with paper plans and go over them with staff can, Williams said. But all plans will nevertheless be scanned and digitized.

“We are truly moving into a paperless system, which, quite frankly, is a significant cost savings,” he said. “From a field point of view, the system allows contractors to schedule all the inspections online, and everyone is then notified online of all of the inspection results the moment they are done.”

The workload for county staff remains the same, and the latest fee structure took that into account, Williams added. It will affect permitting, plan review, building inspection, environmental services and zoning enforcement.

Sandy Griffis, Yavapai County Contractors Association, said electronic plan submittals are one of the fasted growing areas of interest nationally in building departments.

“Kudos for Yavapai County for taking the bull by the horns. It’s going to save time, money, paper, and it’s going to streamline the tasks necessary to issue a building permit,” Griffis said. “It’s a good thing for everybody.”

Williams expects permitting activity in the county to continue to accelerate. Estimates for 2019 indicate the county will issue more than 450 new site-built, single-family permits, which is the highest number of new home permits issued in a single year, and represents a 10 percent increase over the previous year.

Customer service surveys demonstrate a 95 percent customer satisfaction rating with all of the changes in the department over the past year. The comments show that customers overwhelmingly have supported the changes.

“I’m very excited to make this transition. It is moving us to where we need to be in the industry,” Williams said.

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