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One Stop Shop Streamlines Development Permitting Process

City of Huntsville For Immediate Release
June 10, 2013
(HUNTSVILLE, AL) - The City of Huntsville's Urban Development Department has successfully launched its new One Stop Shop for commercial contractors and homebuilders. The new program allows contractors to submit plans electronically and follow a project's approval process as it makes its way online through required departments and agencies.

Prior to the new system, a builder would need to visit multiple departments, submit multiple copies of their plans, and run interference on the step by step approval throughout the permitting process. Using the new SIRE software implemented by the City of Huntsville, contractors, architects and engineers submit their projects online. Departments using the software include Planning, Zoning, Inspections, Engineering, Traffic Engineering, Water Pollution Control, Flood Development (FEMA), Fire Prevention, Natural Resources, Huntsville Utilities, Madison County Health Department, and the City's IT department.

"We made a commitment to our development community that we would work to simplify this process and our departments worked collaboratively to make that happen," said Mayor Tommy Battle. "Our goal is to work smarter, and this new system allows us to better serve our customers and to be more efficient in the process."

The One Stop Shop is designed to cut through red tape, save time and guesswork, provide greater transparency, save money, and provide customers with better service. The City credits the Inspections Department for suggesting the program and pushing it forward and praises the IT department for designing a system where SIRE works seamlessly with other software in current use across Urban Development.

"So many of the companies we work with are out of town and the One Stop Shop allows them to submit everything long distance," said Shane Davis, Director of Urban Development. "This means the only time anyone needs to come to City Hall is to pick up their permit."

Benefits of One Stop Shop:
1. Streamlines the development process: reduces the number of submittals and resubmittals, which helps to eliminate errors
2. Saves time: all required plans are submitted at the same time and routed to all departments simultaneously, thereby eliminating guesswork on a project's status
3. Provides transparency: projects are readily accessible for departments to resolve conflicts.
4. Saves money: works toward paperless processing. The City of Huntsville maintains approximately 14,000 sets of drawings and it takes many employee hours to transport, file, locate, move, and destroy documents in accordance with state law.
5. Accountability: provides department accountability and the opportunity to become more efficient.

Several permits have already been issued through the SIRE system and City departments and builders say they are extremely pleased with its functionality.

One Stop Shop is coming at an important juncture for the City of Huntsville as demand for growth and development continues. The Inspections Department issues, on average, 1,400 permits a month. The Engineering Department managed 208 contracts in 2012 valuing more than $100 million. The Planning Department approved more housing lots during the month of May than were approved in 2012, and last year saw a 70 percent increase in residential building permits. More information is available in the annual Huntsville Development Review 2012 at www.huntsvilleal.gov/Planning/DevelopmentReview/2012devrev.pdf.


For more information, contact:

Kelly Cooper Schrimsher, Director of Communications, Office of the Mayor, City of Huntsville, 256-427-5006 (w), kelly.schrimsher@huntsvilleal.gov

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