Weinberger encourages use of new online permitting portal

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Weinberger encourages use of new online permitting portal

Sat, 05/15/2021 - 1:10pm -- tim

New online portal makes it easy for residents and contractors to apply and track permit progress; next step in ongoing reform of City permitting system

Vermont Business Magazine Mayor Miro Weinberger and City officials encouraged the public to explore and use the new online permitting portal opened this week. The new portal, available at https://burlingtonvt.viewpointcloud.com/, will make it easier to easier to get and track the permits required by the City for work on your home or at a building site –including permits for windows, decks, siding, roofing, or other electric, mechanical, building, zoning, right of way, and Fire permits.

“Putting the permitting online is another important step in our multi-year effort to improve our municipal permitting system — an area of city operations that has long provoked considerable frustration and complaint," said Mayor Weinberger. “This change will save applicants trips to City buildings, and allow them to track the status of their permits in real time. Taken together with the earlier reforms that merged three separate departments into one group that now works together, allowed for virtual inspections, and eliminated a number of confusing fee steps, we have made major progress towards our goal of creating a permitting system that works well for residents and contractors alike, and supports Burlingtonians and local businesses as they make investments that create opportunity, improve homes, and move this community forward.”

Online Application Portal

The new permitting portal is provided in partnership with a company called OpenGov and administered by City staff. Applicants simply go to the portal and sign up with their email address, then apply for the permit or permits they need. There is an online payment option, and you can save an unfinished application or submit and then return to check the status of the permit. Once submitted, an email link to a copy of the application will be sent to you.

While the system is designed to support City permitting needs, in the coming months it will also be configured to manage applications for items like birth certificates, dog licenses, and other records that will help residents avoid unnecessary trips to City Hall. Bringing City services online also reduces the need for residents to travel to City buildings to get the services they need.

OpenGov was selected after a comprehensive evaluation of different competitors because the company’s focus on small- and mid-size cities gave it the ability to provide necessary services for Burlington in a cost-effective way.

“I am extremely proud of our City team from the Innovation & Technology and Permitting and Inspections Departments who have worked diligently to construct an online permitting system that will improve both our operational efficiency and the customer experience,” said Department of Permitting & Inspections Director Bill Ward.

“Converting the City’s existing system to one that can support online applications not only makes permits easier to get for residents, but also creates an opportunity to streamline a number of City processes,” said Chief Innovation Officer Brian Lowe. “This new permit portal is part of a broader effort to modernize and simplify the City’s operations to better serve the community, and I’m grateful in particular to Pat Schmitz, Scott Duckworth, and Jay Appleton for doing the work to make this possible.”

Background on Recent Reforms to the Permitting System

Until 2020, the process to obtain a City permit for Burlingtonians looking to make improvements to their homes and small businesses often involved three different departments. For a typical small project, members of the public would start at the Planning & Zoning Department at City Hall, then travel to the Inspection Services Division at 645 Pine Street, and then get the review of the Code Enforcement Office at Pine Street. For even routine projects, the likelihood of getting through permitting correctly the first time was about 20 percent. City employees worked hard to advance requests, but the process was cumbersome and often unintuitive, especially for residents who only interacted with it occasionally.

Now, all of these functions – zoning, building inspections, and code enforcement – have been combined into the new Permitting & Inspections Department, with employees involved in the permitting process working on one team. Today’s announcement brings this process online, and adds in other related permits related to the Fire Department or Right of Way – so it should be even easier to apply for the permits you need to invest in your home or complete a project. 

Source: Burlington, VT – Mayor 5.11.2021