The City of Atlanta has been a very difficult place to get a Site or Land Disturbance Permit for many years. The same is true for a Building Permit. It sometimes takes months… many months.
Recently the City had to lay-off over 500 employees. Many were in the Bureau of Buildings which handles permits. Following are some of the observations from a permit expeditor who daily deals with the fluctuations of the situation.
The first thing noticed, was the City had fired all the reviewers who had done the Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing reviews. So, how did they plan to get this work reviewed? Well, this was not a bad thing – necessarily. Now, if plans are sealed by an appropriate professional, the in-field inspector will look to see that the work is matching the plans when the first inspection is made. IECC
On the other hand, some experienced people were laid-off. This has meant that you might submit plans, get your check list and then go forward to get those approvals. But, as this expeditor found out, weeks later…they might add more departments needing to approve plans. By that time, it has become a critical situation to an active construction project.
There is some speculation that people might be laid-off in the Arborist Division. Atlanta has had a very strong policy on the preservation of trees and the replacement of trees removed. To visit the City is to see the positive results with the plush canopy of trees evident.
The policies involving the tree ordinances, however, have been a bit confusing for a long time. If the reduction of the department occurs, it will be another potential slowdown to getting a permit.
The bottom line is that the City has been trying for a long time to improve their permitting capabilities, but as an expediter, it seems that as they solve one problem, another area becomes a bottleneck. The personnel are somewhat disenfranchised and have no evident motivation from the administration to get a permit completed in a timely way.
It will be interesting to see the future for this dynamic city’s development.