Director of Permitting Services Describes Review

Posted Date: 
May 10, 2012

 

From left to right: MCCC President & CEO Gigi Godwin, Director of Dept. of Permitting Services Diane Schwartz-Jone, Vice-Chair Bill Robertson, Co-Chair Dr. Stewart Edelstein

Vice-Chair Bill Robertson welcomed the committee and introduced the guest speaker, Montgomery County Director of the Department of Permitting Services, Diane Schwartz-Jones.

Ms. Jones spoke about her primary focus of bringing the Department of Permitting Services (DPS) into "this century". She described DPS as a safety net for the environment and the community and that the Department protects the way of life in the community.  She also described that the Department is vital to economic development so that organizations can be open for business in a safe and compliant way.

She is focusing on a couple of key initiatives: One is the streamlining of the development process. In order to do so, they have brought together the stakeholders such as the Department of Park and Planning, DPS, DOT, state highway, WSSC, etc. The structure was devised so that agencies were obligated to work together rather than blame each other for an issue. The group has gotten together in order to change certain processes, not laws. Early changes involve getting projects from beginning to occupancy.

There are seven main concerns about where processes need to change, including special exceptions, right of way permits, and transportation and utilities.

The results from the development streamlining effort will have some immediate policy changes and will have a rest as well. Ms. Jones suggested that there may be a legislative package to update the law to accommodate some of the findings and recommendations of the roundtables as part of this effort.

The other “game changer” in DPS is IT. DPS is going to develop an IT strategy and find the best way to do electronic-plan submission and reviews. Currently, DPS gets Aston plan to go through the different departments rather than having concurrent reviews. With IT development, reviews can be concurrent and streamlined rather than sequential.

Ms. Jones fielded questions from the members of the committee on a variety of topics including interaction with other government departments and structure of DPS.

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