Building to ease permit waits

Do-it-yourselfers, developers or anyone else seeking building permits will soon be able to get them without all the confusion,said Thomas Bruun, director of the Prince William County Public Works Department.

The county’s new Development Services Building at 5 County Complex Court, behind the McCoart Administration Center, will be fully

operational by Tuesday.

People wanting to do anything from adding a deck or finishing a basement to building a town center or subdivision should be able to move more

easily through the county’s permitting process with the newly designed system for the geographical information, building permits, building plan intake, planning and zoning counters, Bruun said.

The key to the new system is the early assistance counter in the atrium of the new $20 million building, according to Bruun.

He said people seeking permits who are unfamiliar with the county system can stop first at the desk and learn all of the places they have to go for their permits and the order to go there to get them.

The process will keep customers from getting in the zoning line when they need to be in the line for building permits, Bruun said.

He said the idea is that technicians staffing the counter will ask people questions and figure out where they need to go and then send them there with all the correct forms and paperwork.

“We will actually route them accordingly,” Bruun said.

George Payne, the early assistance manager, said the new system should get customers’ needs assessed correctly the first time and keep mix-ups to a minimum.

“If we get them in the right line the first time with preparation, that’s going to cut down on wear-and-tear on the citizen and cut down on wear-and-tear on the staff,” Payne said. “Everything here is designed for our citizens who are frustrated by the process.”

Professionals, such as developers, who understand the process can use the self-service area to log into an electronic queuing system via touch screen computer terminals.

So everyone gets a number and can take a seat in the atrium’s ample and comfortable seating while they wait for their number to be called in turn.

There won’t be people waiting in lines, Payne said.

“You’re going to go have a one-on-one business conversation somewhat in privacy at these counters,” Payne said.

The building is equipped with wireless Internet access and flat screen monitors will be tuned to Channel 23, the county’s public information channel.