County Comment: County Permits Process is On-Line

County Comment
County Permits Process is On-Line
by Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer

Velocity Hall is not the name of the latest pop star. It is the name of a software program has speeded up the permitting and inspection progress for Washington County citizens.
The service got started last summer, and Permits and Inspections Deputy Director Angela Smith says the savings are measurable in time spent on the permit process, less consumer frustration and turn around time for inspection reports.
"Property Owners, Contractors, any of our customers are able to track inspection processes, to schedule inspections, they can also check the status of a building permit prior to the issuance and can pay for their fees on-line'" Smith said. "Contractors also have the ability to apply for permits on-line."
The system cuts the time needed to apply for a permit from several days, to about five minutes, Smith explained, and allows contractors to be able to move to the next construction phase faster, by being able to see results of inspections almost as they occur.
Inspectors are equipped with wireless laptop computers, that are linked in to the Velocity Hall system and inspection reports are submitted from the field.
Contractors are able to track progress of a job almost in real-time. "Time is money to them," Smith said, "the sooner they can complete the job, the sooner they can complete other ones."
Residential permits for new construction are taking three weeks from start to finish, Smith said, with commercial projects at three to four weeks. Small projects take three to five days to complete.
Velocity Hall interfaces with Accela Wireless Mobile Solutions software. Washington County won a national award for its implementation of Accela in 4 weeks, the shortest such implementation on record.
"Currently we are working with Accela to push the envelope, to enhance even greater services with Mobile Solutions," Smith said.
Speeding up Commercial permits was the Department's first goal, Smith said. "Our plan, hopefully within the next 6 months to a year, is to start enabling small projects, garages, sheds, decks, those that have small plans," Smith said.
"Not only is Velocity Hall a system, which the customers that are applying for permits can utilize, it also contains real estate information," Smith said. " If you a looking to buy a house, the general public can see what permits have been applied for on that particular property. That's a wealth of information as well. Not only if you a going through that process, but if you want history what has transpired, Velocity Hall is also helpful in that way," she said.
Accessing the system is as easy as accessing the County website at www.weashco-md.net. A link to the system is located on the home page of the website, and will take consumers and contractors directly into a Velocity Hall portal.