Final Land Use Recommendations by thollis

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									Final Assessment Report
on

Land Use and Construction Permitting

submitted to

The City of Milford Connecticut

January 2009 ©

FINAL ASSESSMENT REPORT ON LAND USE AND CONSTRUCTION PERMITTING SUBMITTED TO THE CITY OF MILFORD, CONNECTICUT

TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. 2. 3. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY .............................................................................................................................. 1 BACKGROUND ............................................................................................................................................... 2 INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................................................ 4 3.1. 3.2. 3.3. 3.4. 3.5. 3.6. 4. GOVERNANCE ............................................................................................................................................... 4 SCOPE ........................................................................................................................................................... 5 DELIVERABLES ............................................................................................................................................. 6 MANAGEMENT OF CHANGE .......................................................................................................................... 7 METHODOLOGY ............................................................................................................................................ 7 OBJECTIVES OF PROCESS ASSESSMENT ........................................................................................................ 8

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ........................................................................................................................ 9 4.1. 4.2. 4.3. CONSTRUCTION PERMITTING WITH NO CHANGES TO THE LAND USE PROCESS ......................................... 10 CONSTRUCTION PERMITTING WITH CHANGES TO THE LAND USE PROCESS ............................................... 12 CONDITIONS IMPACTING THE PERMIT PROCESS .......................................................................................... 12 4.3.1. Environmental Factors ................................................................................................................... 12 4.3.2. Use of Electronic Media and City Web Page .................................................................................. 13 4.3.3. Additional Factors or Conditions Impacting the Process ............................................................... 14

5.

FINDINGS BY ORGANIZATIONAL COMPONENT............................................................................... 16 5.1. 5.2. 5.3. 5.4. 5.5. 5.6. 5.7. 5.8. 5.9. 5.10. 5.11. ZONING ENFORCEMENT .............................................................................................................................. 16 CITY PLANNER ........................................................................................................................................... 17 MILFORD INLAND WETLANDS AGENCY ..................................................................................................... 18 HEALTH DEPARTMENT ............................................................................................................................... 18 SEWER COMMISSION .................................................................................................................................. 18 CITY ENGINEER .......................................................................................................................................... 18 POLICE DEPARTMENT ................................................................................................................................. 19 FIRE DEPARTMENT ..................................................................................................................................... 19 TAX ASSESSOR AND TAX COLLECTOR........................................................................................................ 20 BUILDING INSPECTION DEPARTMENT ......................................................................................................... 20 COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ...................................................................................................................... 22

6. 7. 8.

COMMENTS FROM USERS OF THE PERMITTING PROCESS ......................................................... 23 ISSUES SUMMARY ...................................................................................................................................... 25 GIS, INFRASTRUCTURE AND OTHER TECHNOLOGY...................................................................... 27 8.1. 8.2. 8.3. 8.4. 8.5. SYSTEM INFRASTRUCTURE ......................................................................................................................... 27 GIS DATA................................................................................................................................................... 28 GIS SOFTWARE AND APPLICATIONS ........................................................................................................... 29 ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT OF TECHNOLOGY .............................................................................. 30 SUMMARY OF GIS ...................................................................................................................................... 30

9.

CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................................................... 31

ATTACHMENTS ...................................................................................................................................................... 32 ATTACHMENT 1 – MEMORANDUM FROM MAYOR, AUGUST 22, 2008 ................................................................... 32 ATTACHMENT 2 – CITY PERSONNEL INTERVIEWED............................................................................................... 35 ATTACHMENT 3 – CITY PERSONNEL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS ................................................................................ 37 ATTACHMENT 4 – APPLICANT INTERVIEW INSTRUMENT ....................................................................................... 39 ATTACHMENT 5 – MILFORD BUILDING DEPARTMENT SAMPLE BUILDING PERMIT ............................................... 41

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FINAL ASSESSMENT REPORT ON LAND USE AND CONSTRUCTION PERMITTING SUBMITTED TO THE CITY OF MILFORD, CONNECTICUT ATTACHMENT 6 – BUILDING INSPECTION PERMIT REQUIREMENTS ....................................................................... 46 ATTACHMENT 7 – PLANNING AND ZONING TRANSMITTAL FORM ......................................................................... 48 ATTACHMENT 8 – MILFORD PLANNING AND ZONING PERMIT INFORMATION ....................................................... 50 ATTACHMENT 9 – PLANNING AND ZONING GENERAL INFORMATION .................................................................... 54 ATTACHMENT 10 – CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEY ....................................................................................... 57 ATTACHMENT 11 – COMMUNITY WEBSITES SURVEYED ....................................................................................... 59 ATTACHMENT 12 – WORK EXEMPT FROM PERMIT ............................................................................................... 61

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1.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

L. Robert Kimball & Associates (Kimball) is pleased to provide the City of Milford, Connecticut (City) with this assessment report on land use and construction permitting. The City is experiencing difficulty in managing workflow associated with processing applications for land use and construction permits. The process involves many different City departments with varying degrees of technology tools and requires coordination of resources to complete the compilation of relevant data and issuance of permits. Mayor James Richetelli, Jr. has committed to making the permitting process within the City more customer-friendly. Although the process has been reviewed informally in the past, no rigorous, objective and independent study has been conducted to examine the complete process and make recommendations for improvements. Mayor Richetelli engaged Kimball to conduct and document a formal review and provide recommendations for process improvement. Information received from the City indicates customer expectations are not being met; the various departments and activities involved in the permitting process are not working in an efficient and coordinated manner; permit staff are unable to keep up with demands, causing frequent delays; and the workflow of the permitting process cannot be easily monitored and tracked. Interviews conducted with five persons who have used or routinely use the Milford land use / building permitting process confirm the City’s perception of customer dissatisfaction with the overall process; however, for the most part, these customers also realize the complexity of the process and credit the various component agencies with good intentions. Interviewees also acknowledge the process, specifically where the Building Inspection Department is involved, has improved, albeit minimally, since revisions made to the process after November, 2007. City departments who participate in the permitting process have acknowledged a need to assess process and implement modified, efficient methods for accomplishing the process and have pledged their support of the project. The project has the support of the mayor and administrative staff. The assessment reveals obtaining a construction permit in the City is not a single process but rather a loosely-connected series of processes that support up to 15 departments, agencies or offices. There is no single entity responsible for permitting. There is no single source of information available to applicants to help them prepare to begin the permitting processes or to guide through the various steps they must complete. Applicants must physically appear at various offices and walk their applications through the numerous required steps. Access to the offices is complicated by limited parking, separate and geographically-dispersed office locations, poor labeling of offices in the Parsons Government Center, limited hours of operations and inadequate personal assistance. Technology tools are used minimally to support the process. This assessment report describes the various procedures that make up the permit application process in Milford. Each of the findings is addressed in detail. The report should not be interpreted as critical of any person(s) or organizational component(s). Rather, the assessment provides insights to past performance, providing a baseline for improvement metrics and evaluates the potential for successful process reengineering.

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2.

BACKGROUND

Milford presents the feel of a small town with charm and a sense of history dating from 1639. Located an hour north of New York City, Milford is accessible for travelers and commuters by major highway systems, Interstate 95, the Merritt / Wilbur Cross Parkway (Route 15) and Boston Post Road (U.S. 1), as well as rail service on MetroNorth and Amtrak to New York and beyond. New York boaters enjoy crossing Long Island (L.I.) Sound to the Milford Lisman Landing Marina. There is also a ferry crossing from Port Jefferson, L.I. to Bridgeport, with train access to downtown. 1 A diversified economy supports manufacturing, retail, corporate office and a service industry. Unemployment is low. Milford hosts manufacturers of consumer products, fabricated metals and plastics, as well as dot.com, investment and hi-tech firms. Milford is a supportive community for its corporate, research and industrial park employers.2 Reportedly, construction activity in Milford ranks in the top three municipalities in the State of Connecticut (State).3 This level of activity is reported in spite of assertions by sectors of the community that developers avoid Milford because obtaining approvals for planning and zoning and building permits is excessively cumbersome.4 Whether the assertions are perceptions or genuine, the City acknowledges concerns with the workflow associated with land use and building permit applications. The process involves many different City departments with varying degrees of technology tools and requires coordination of resources to complete the compilation of relevant data and issuance of permits. Anecdotal information received from City sources indicates customer expectations are not being met; the various departments and activities involved in the permitting process are not working in an efficient and coordinated manner; permit staff are unable to keep up with demands, causing frequent delays; and the workflow of the permitting process cannot be easily monitored and tracked. Media stories featuring examples of perceived inefficiencies indicate a feeling of frustration within the community and feelings of defensiveness within many City personnel who believe they are doing their best to provide services to permit applicants.5 Kimball researchers received unreserved cooperation and assistance from City personnel. Stakeholder agencies all demonstrate individual competencies and commitment to performing their responsibilities efficiently and effectively. The mayor and City departments who participate in the permitting process have expressed their commitment to improving performance by implementing modified, efficient methods for accomplishing the permitting process, and have pledged their support of the project.

1 2 3 4 5

City of Milford web page Ibid. Raucci Interview, August 27, 2008 New Haven Register, June 26, 2008; Connecticut Post, August 28, 2008 Ibid.

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Kimball held a kick-off meeting on August 26, 2008, with Mayor Richetelli, his staff and City departments’ personnel. Over the following two days, Kimball staff interviewed City personnel and observed the land use and building permit process, collecting data essential to the process assessment. A subsequent visit on September 11, 2008, provided an opportunity to interview contractors and other applicants who have had interactions with the permitting process.

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3.
3.1.

INTRODUCTION
GOVERNANCE

Understanding the permitting process in the City requires an understanding of the City governance structure. City residents elect the Mayor, a Board of Aldermen, a Planning and Zoning Commission, a City Clerk, Registrars of Voters, Constables and the Board of Education. The mayor appoints agency heads and members of numerous commissions and boards. The Board of Aldermen confirms appointments to boards and commissions made by the mayor and makes its own appointments to additional boards and commissions.

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The mayor hires the City planner, based on recommendations of an ad hoc selection committee; however, the Planning and Zoning Commission oversees the actions of the City planner, conducts hearings and makes judgments in applications brought before their respective commission. The chief building inspector is hired in the same manner as the city planner. The Sewer Commission oversees the City engineer; the Board of Fire Commissioners oversees the decisions made by the fire marshal; the Inland Wetlands Commission oversees the inlands wetlands compliance officer; the Board of Police Commissioners oversees the decisions and recommendations of the chief of police; and the Board of Health oversees the decisions and recommendations of the Health Department. These and other agencies impact the permit approval process. Commissions and boards conduct hearings and make judgments regarding the applications. Some decisions of the commissions / boards are binding; some are not, but their meetings are part of the approval process; and they routinely meet only monthly. Some appeals go directly to State agencies instead of local commissions or boards to be heard. Applicants seeking a construction permit must navigate through as many as 15 offices or departments, and their boards or commissions, to obtain approvals/signoffs before they can appear at the Building Inspection Department to apply for their actual building permit. Which offices are involved is determined by the impact of the project on the community and its resources. In addition to the City Building Inspection Department and Planning and Zoning Department, others involved in the permitting process include, but are not limited to, the Engineering Department, Community Development, Health Department, Public Works, Wastewater Treatment, Assessor, Milford Inland Wetlands Agency, police and fire departments, Sewer Commission and Tax Collector. While not all departments and/or agencies are involved in all permit applications, the process includes a step wherein determinations must be made regarding which of the agencies needs to participate in each specific permit application. The governance model is described here to illustrate the complexity of the process and the fact that no single person or organizational component holds authority over the land use and building permitting process.

3.2.

SCOPE

This assessment report examines the land use / building permit process as the sum of its component parts and as individual and separate sub-processes that contribute to a final result. The report does not editorialize but, rather, presents what Kimball researchers believe to be factual descriptions of the operations of the organizational components performing their individual tasks related to land use permitting. Inefficiencies or obstacles to the processes are identified without prejudice. Kimball also evaluated the technology infrastructure supporting City departments and offices. Current professional and industry standards present opportunities to enhance efficiency of operations through the application of technology. As a precursor to making recommendations for implementing additional technology to the Milford permitting processes, Kimball needed to understand the capabilities of the existing infrastructure.

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As noted, permitting for land use and building in the City involves many different City departments and/or offices, with various responsibilities and varying degrees of technology tools, and requires coordination of resources to complete the compilation of relevant data and issuance of permits. The operations of the most prominent departments or offices relating to the permitting process are examined and evaluated in the study. The Planning and Zoning Department and the Building Inspection Department are the principal authorities affecting the overall permitting process. They are separate organizations, with separate tasks and authority. The Planning and Zoning Department is always involved to some degree in obtaining a building permit. Planning and Zoning must issue what is referred to as a “permit,” which is functionally an authorization to proceed with the building permit process, assuring any impact on land use by the proposed construction is properly reviewed. Although operating separately, the Kimball assessment considers the two processes integrated components of one “permitting” process. Kimball also views the permitting process as the sum of all participating departments’ activities. Key process areas are identified in the report. Each process area must move the permit applicants toward a successful conclusion, i.e., an issued permit, in contrast to organizational components that focus on moving the applicant through their individual component part of the process, subsequently leaving the applicant to find their way through the remainder of the process. Kimball and the City have established a project scope representing two distinct, separate efforts: (1) assessing current permitting processes; and (2) recommending modifications to the business processes for permitting, including recommendations for the introduction of additional technology to support the modified procedures. Central to the project is the belief that external process assessment can bring focus and objectivity to the problem areas. The assessment report compiles the information gained through the interviews and research conducted by Kimball and initially presents it from a macro perspective in the General Observations and Findings by Organizational Component sections. Following the initial observations, efficiencies and effectiveness of participating organizations or departments are considered individually. The assessment report is seen as laying a foundation to support and justify proposed process enhancements and modifications. Scope related to the development of recommendations is discussed in the recommendations report.

3.3.

DELIVERABLES

This assessment report is the first of two major deliverables. In this report, Kimball describes the current state of land use and building permitting as a process in the City. The object of the report is to identify opportunities for enhancing the level of efficiency and quality of service in the permitting process. The report does not place responsibility on any person or department for any perceived deficiencies. Kimball made efforts to verify the data provided by City personnel regarding process, quality of service and performance. Substantiating data is provided without bias. Much of the information provided could not be independently confirmed. As a practical matter, interviewees are assumed to be accurate in their statements.

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The second major deliverable, a recommendations report, presents suggestions for a modified business model. Many of the activities of the participating offices are built upon past practices, custom, regulatory or statutory requirements and, accordingly, have not been seriously questioned in the past. From the perspective of Kimball’s external review, potential is not limited by past practice, even those currently mandated by local ordinance. The recommendations report offers proposed actions; it does not “build” a new business model. To be accepted, development of the new model must come from within; however, Kimball offers a continuing relationship of support to the goal of ongoing, continuous process improvement.

3.4.

MANAGEMENT OF CHANGE

There is an assumption the assessment of the land use permitting process will lead to recommendations for process improvement. City personnel and process stakeholders must be willing to accept change for the effort to be successful. It is a difficult endeavor for people and organizations to embrace change, particularly when workload and looming deadlines seem overwhelming. Kimball addresses the permitting process as a whole, with the objective of improving the capabilities of individuals and organizational components, increasing productivity, increasing public satisfaction and producing results sooner, while reducing effort and frustration within the City departments’ personnel. Kimball understands how difficult it is to pursue new processes while maintaining daily business requirements.

3.5.

METHODOLOGY

Process assessment in itself does not lead directly to benefits; it leads to knowledge. The most important objective is identifying appropriate improvement opportunities, leading to initiating and sustaining process improvement activities. Being external to the City, Kimball brings complete objectivity to the assessment process, free of organizational politics, historical tensions and personalities. The assessment is not a forum for finding fault or scapegoats. In conducting the assessment of the existing process, Kimball observed how permit applications are received and progress through each step of the approval. In a workshop setting, all stakeholder departments described where they enter the process, what tasks they perform and what action follows their part of the process. The balance of this page has intentionally been left blank.

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Figure 2: Assessment Process Flow6 Kimball staff individually interviewed City personnel engaged in the permitting process and solicited their input regarding activities, “roadblocks” and potential solutions. Kimball considered the amount of resources and competencies of available resources that are committed to the permit process. Recognizing the current process requires inter-departmental and intra-department communications and cooperation, Kimball assessed the level of cooperation and commitment across the organizational components. Kimball staff reviewed the current workflows and business processes, including determining how technology resources are utilized within these processes. The City website was examined to discover the extent to which the City was using the medium to support the permitting process. The review also included benchmarking the City process against other municipalities, acknowledging the municipalities are impacted by state and local statutory and regulatory constraints. Kimball interviewed contractors and other permit applicants, summarizing and/or excerpting their comments in the assessment report, adding a “customer” perspective to the discussions. To prompt candid input, no comments by applicants are attributed to the persons interviewed. Other than City personnel, interviewees are not identified in the report.

3.6.
• • • •

OBJECTIVES OF PROCESS ASSESSMENT
Identify process strengths and improvement opportunities Educate stakeholders regarding key process areas Provide a catalyst for improvement Obtain stakeholder buy-in for process improvement

6

Wiegers, Karl E., 2005

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4.

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS

At the initial meeting with the mayor and City personnel, Kimball developed a process flow chart to establish an understanding of the process followed when a party was requesting a permit. As the process was explained by the stakeholders, it was immediately noted that there was no single starting point for the process. Kimball learned that, depending on several factors, the process could begin in several different locations. Factors include, but are not limited to: type of job to be performed, size of the job to be performed, effect on the septic or sewer system, involvement of inland wetlands and if current zoning permitted the proposed use at the location. Two flow charts were developed depicting the process for obtaining a building permit. The first flow chart, Figure 3, is identified as Construction Permitting – No Change to Land Use. Figure 4 is identified as Construction Permitting - Change to Land Use.

Figure 3 - No Change to Land Use

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4.1.

CONSTRUCTION PERMITTING WITH NO CHANGES TO THE LAND USE PROCESS

Figure 3 represents the basic process for gaining a building permit when there is no proposed change to the land use. Examples include swimming pools, decks and most additions or remodeling to homes. The process is representative of most projects taken on by homeowners or contractors on behalf of the owners. Prior to beginning any project, a release form from the tax collector is required. A building permit is not issued unless taxes are up-to-date. Once the release is obtained, the applicant goes to the Zoning Enforcement office to confirm the project is allowed in the zone where the property is located. A plot plan is required. If the property is located in the wetlands, approval is required from the Inland Wetlands Commission. If there is no issue related to land use zoning, and if approval is obtained from Inland Wetlands (when necessary), the applicant can proceed to the Building Inspection office. The applicant is required to possess the following documents prior to a building permit being issued: • • • • • • • Planning and Zoning approval (sign-off) Tax clearance certificate City Fire Marshal approval (excluding one or two family dwellings and accessory structures) Sewer Commission approval (sign-off [if connected or going to be connected to the public sewer system]) City Health Department approval (sign-off [if on septic system or food establishment]) Worker’s compensation certificate (contractor) or worker’s compensation affidavit form (homeowner) Properly completed building permit application(s)
o

o

If someone other than the owner of the property is submitting the application(s), the applicant must have the signature of the owner indicating the work is authorized. If applicable, a State of Connecticut license / registration number

•

In addition, the applicant must submit two sets of construction plans: a description of the work to be completed and a site plan with the application.

The building inspector then reviews the application and drawings to confirm compliance with the Connecticut building code. The building inspector will confirm that all required approvals and documents have been submitted with the application. By law, a period of 30 days is allotted for the submitted plan to be approved or denied. A denied plan, or one that is returned as incomplete (missing documents), can be resubmitted. If re-submitted, the application is processed as new; and a new30-day time period begins. Once an application and submitted documents are approved by the building inspector, a building permit is issued. The tax assessor is advised of the permit being issued. Required inspections are noted, and the

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applicant is responsible for contacting the building inspector to schedule the required inspections. Inspections are scheduled in the afternoons. The applicant is advised the inspector will arrive between 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. The applicant or contractor must be present when the inspector arrives. Upon completion of the project, the building inspector is notified for the final inspection. If all inspections are successful and the building is found to be compliant, a Certificate of Occupancy and a building sign-off can occur. A copy of this information is provided to the tax assessor.

Figure 4 - “Change to Land Use”

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4.2.

CONSTRUCTION PERMITTING WITH CHANGES TO THE LAND USE PROCESS

Figure 4 depicts the land use / building permit process if major modifications regarding the utility of the property are being considered, including major renovations requiring variances or a proposed use that is not permitted by zoning restrictions. When the land use is going to be changed, the process must start at the Planning and Zoning office and progress from there. A review process, which could include up to 15 different agencies or commissions, occurs after the planning office completes a preliminary review and approval of the plans. The approvals, denials and/or recommendations from the various reviewing offices are provided to the applicant and/or sent directly to the planning office. When the application package is complete, the planning office compiles and reviews the comments made by the reviewing offices. When the plan is deemed ready to proceed, it is presented to the Planning Commission to be placed on the calendar for a hearing at the next available public hearing date. The Planning Commission may approve, modify or deny the plan. If approved or modified, the plan may proceed into the process illustrated in Figure 3, with a copy of the commission approval going to the tax collector. If denied, the applicant must determine what changes may be necessary for resubmission. Stakeholders verified the accuracy of Figures 3 and 4 during the interviews.

4.3. 4.3.1.

CONDITIONS IMPACTING THE PERMIT PROCESS Environmental Factors

The burden of successfully working through the permitting process rests squarely on the applicant. The conveyance of plans from office to office is the applicant’s responsibility to complete. Although the applicant may receive a transmittal form indicating who needs to review the plans or from whom they need to gain approval, the applicant is required to make the necessary appointment or arrangements on their own. Although each department, office or agency is generally helpful in different ways, the applicant has no advocate to assist them through the process. The “process” is fragmented; it is a series of disconnected tasks that end up in the Building Inspector’s office. Many of the departments, agencies or commission representatives are located in the Parsons Government Center adjacent to Milford City Hall. There is no accurate directory for the Parsons Government Center, and the rooms are not numbered. There is a plaque for each room indicating what is located therein. The plaque is mounted flush to the wall, impeding visibility except from a straight-on view. There is a parttime receptionist located on the first floor. However, there is no common or main door into the building; all exterior doors provide open access to the building. With the exception of one door, all others bring an unfamiliar visitor into the building away from the receptionist. The City offices in the Parsons Government Center are not grouped according to function, so offices that an applicant may need to visit are not collocated in one specific area. The Parsons Government Center also contains offices for the school district and several state offices. Several agencies that may be

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involved in the permitting process, including the police department, fire department and health department, are located in other areas of the City. Hours of availability are not convenient for the applicants. The Building Inspection Department is open from 8:30 to 11:30 each morning. Some other departments have more flexible hours. Having only morning hours has led to lines of people in the hallway outside of the Building Inspection Department. In some cases, applicants have not been able to complete the process in a single day and must come back to wait in line again at their next opportunity. The Building Inspection Department has taken steps to reduce this from occurring in response to recommendations made in November, 2007, by a former building inspection official. According to persons interviewed who apply for permits on a regular basis, the changes have helped. However, patrons of the system have advised that lines do not occur in other cities where they have obtained permits in a more timely fashion. Parking is also an issue in the area of the Parsons Government Center. Parking is at a premium in this downtown area that also includes the courthouse. Parking can be found with restrictions of one hour, two hours or three hours. A large overflow parking lot that has no time restriction is located near the Parsons Government Center; however, this parking lot is not as convenient as other parking in the area.

4.3.2.

Use of Electronic Media and City Web Page

The City maintains a website where the various departments and agencies have pages available for their use. Many departments, such as the sewer department, health department and Inland Wetlands, have forms on their web pages in .PDF format that an applicant can complete online and print to bring in with them. The police department has forms available in.PDF format and also has their complaint form available so that it can be submitted electronically. The Building Inspection Department has sample forms: permit requirements and descriptions of “…work exempt from permitting…” available. The planning and zoning department has information available, including permit information, general information, and information on how to complete a plot plan. Community development has a listing of available commercial property in the City. Although many departments are using the website, it is only in a basic manner and not to the full extent that the City has been made available. Samples of various forms and instructions found on the City website are provided in the Attachments section of this report. The City Management Information Services (MIS) Department has offered training and assistance to all City departments. In the case of the agencies involved in the permitting process, not all have attended training or taken advantage of offered assistance. Most of the building inspection process is completed on paper and uses little technology. The same is true of the planning and zoning programs. The Planning and Zoning Office was offered use of the existing GIS system but expressed reluctance, citing perceived concerns for inaccuracies that may occur. Interviews reveal that the Building Inspection Department previously pursued purchase of a software application to support the building inspection process. The program was actually a part of a larger enterprise system that did not demonstrate value to the other City departments and was not procured. Currently, there is no enterprise-wide electronic application supporting or interfacing the multiple permitting process participants to facilitate the land use / building permitting application process. In many cities, various forms are available in.PDF format so they can be completed and taken to the appropriate office. In other cities and towns of Connecticut, applications can be submitted online. In particular, specialized contractors such as electrical or HVAC, can submit applications and payment to be

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added to projects where a permit is already issued.7 The permits reportedly can be picked up the following day. The City currently supports a variety of enterprise-level applications. The basic infrastructure and support are available to maintain these kinds of applications and deliver them effectively to end users. Enterprise-level applications built with the Cartegraph software have already been deployed successfully to the Health Department to manage inspections. Permit management tools could be deployed in much the same way and should function just as well. The barriers to adoption of enterprise level permit management tools do not seem to be technology-related.

4.3.3.

Additional Factors or Conditions Impacting the Process

Overall, it is clear that there is no single starting point for this process. More significantly, there is no one who is responsible for the overall permitting process. As a result, there is no accountability for the overall process. As noted, it appears that each department / office attempts to assist the applicant through their portion of the process, but no single unit provides guidance through the entire process. Portions of the process are “owned” by different departments, but no one department “owns” the entire process. There is no single source of information regarding the land use / building permit process in the City. As mentioned elsewhere in this report, individual departments or offices provide information regarding their specific component of the process. Kimball notes in addition to no single starting point for the process, it appears multiple components can be approached concurrently rather than sequentially; however, Kimball found no guidance to the applicants to that effect. In several interviews with those involved in the process, City ordinances were mentioned as the reason for the manner of processing applications. In some cases, Kimball reviewed the ordinances. Interviews indicate there is no codification of the ordinances, and they are passed and applied by the effected departments. There is also no electronic version of the ordinances available to City personnel or to the public. When questioned, no one indicated they had pursued or considered seeking amendments to governing ordinances. Various ordinances were requested as part of this assessment; but, as of the writing of this report, Kimball has not received them. Other methods of process practices were explained as simply the way they have always been done. Many City personnel have been in their positions for many years and are comfortable with the way they do business. The Building Inspection Department utilizes the State of Connecticut Building Code (2005 edition) as its guiding authority. Although documentation on the website advises it is available through a link, it is not. In an interview, Chief Building Inspector Thomas Raucci, Jr. stated the building code is available in the City library. Availability of the Code at the library is not mentioned on the web page. Kimball did not verify the availability. Job descriptions were reviewed for several of the positions essential to the process. Although the job descriptions include illustrative duties, qualifications and Skills, Knowledge and Abilities (SKAs), several did not address to whom the job holder was accountable, while another indicated that the job holder was
7

Online research conducted regarding permitting practices in other Connecticut communities, using websites produced by the communities. Communities reviewed are listed in the Attachments section of the report.

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accountable to two supervisors. The job descriptions did not list essential functions or competencies. One notable job description, the inland wetlands compliance officer, indicates a revision date more than 20 years old.

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5.

FINDINGS BY ORGANIZATIONAL COMPONENT

Kimball personnel interviewed City stakeholders on August 27 and 28, 2008. Departments represented in the interviews included the tax collector, assessor, building inspections, planning and zoning, fire, police, City engineer, health, inland wetlands and sewer commission. All interviewees were asked the same questions. The interview instrument is included in the Attachments section of the report. Interviewees were asked to comment on the permitting process and what they felt may improve the process. All those interviewed were cooperative and informative concerning their segment of the process. During the interviews, stakeholders explained when their offices became involved in the process and what services they provide. Many of those in the process become involved through either planning and zoning or building inspections.

5.1.

ZONING ENFORCEMENT

When applicants come to the Zoning Enforcement office for zoning permits, an office staff member confirms that a variance is not required; a plot plan is required. Zoning enforcement staff members expressed willingness to assist applicants to prepare a plot plan while the applicant is in the office. Office staff checks hard copy documents to determine if the location presents an inland wetlands concern; if so, staff refers the applicant to the Inland Wetlands office for review and sign-off. There is also a check-off block to indicate if the property is on the sewer system, or if it has a septic system. Notably, neither the Zoning Enforcement office nor the Planning and Zoning office utilize the sewer system check-off block data for any purpose. All files used by Zoning Enforcement office staff are hard copies, and many are handwritten. A threepart form is utilized, with one copy going to the applicant as an output work product documenting their review process. In cases where a variance is necessary, the process is explained to the applicant with the advisement that six copies of the site plan are required. Staff members will meet with applicants to review what is needed for a variance and assist them as needed. A hearing is set before the Zoning Board of Appeals for the variance. If the variance is approved, a land plan change must be filed; and the plans are stamped and the permit issued. By law, zoning enforcement is required to sign off on all building permits issued by the City. The major issue faced with applicants is that they come to the office unprepared, often lacking the plot plan. 2005-2006 Fiscal year Zoning Permits Issued 1,171 2006-2007 Fiscal year 955 2007-2008 Fiscal year 805 Three Year Total Change (+/-) -366 Percentage Of Difference (+/-) -31 percent

Table 1: Permitting Data: Planning and Zoning Services

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Table 1 indicates the number of zoning permits issued by the Milford Planning and Zoning Department for the last three fiscal years. The numbers indicate a declining trend in services for the period. Data was provided by the Planning and Zoning Department in their annual reports.

5.2.

CITY PLANNER

The Planning and Zoning Department becomes involved with larger projects or those that would require a variance to complete. Connecticut statutes give power to the municipalities to establish land use regulations. The City also has a Coastal Area Management (CAM) zone with specific state regulations. Usually, the developer or contractor arranges to meet with planning and zoning staff prior to submitting the project to identify the variances or hearings that may be needed. Applicants may also inquire about modifications to the plans that would potentially expedite the process. A Planning and Zoning Board Review Transmittal form is utilized to provide guidance to the applicant concerning additional reviews and sign offs that are required prior to final consideration for land use approval. Dependent upon the project, up to 15 additional departments, agencies or commissions may participate in the “preliminary” review of the project. A sample of the form is included in the Attachments section of the report. In the preliminary review process, the applicant is responsible for taking the plans to the various departments and/or offices and having the department or office sign off (pre-approve) on the plans. The applicant must provide each organizational segment with a copy of the plans for the project. Dependent on the project, it may take two months or more to gain the necessary pre-approvals. The Planning and Zoning Board meets twice a month and considers all special permits and exemptions. Once all pre-approvals are gained, the project is placed on the agenda of the next available meeting. If the applicant is not satisfied with the decision of the Board, they may appeal the decision, or they may resubmit the plan with the required adjustments. The major issue faced by the Planning and Zoning Department is applicants who misinterpret the regulations and are subsequently missing the information necessary to proceed. The review processes by the other departments / offices vary in content and format. Most of the documentation received from the other departments is not binding on the actions of the Planning and Zoning office or the Planning and Zoning Commission. The scope of the reviews by some departments / offices, notably the police department, is sometimes greater than necessary to satisfy the needs of planning and zoning, suggesting extra effort is occurring that requires more time and resources than necessary. Kimball interviewed five representatives from the approval departments or agencies listed on the transmittal form about their input into the process. Each explained their involvement in the planning process, advising they are not usually involved in every plan application that comes into the City.

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5.3.

MILFORD INLAND WETLANDS AGENCY

The Milford Inland Wetlands Agency (MIWA) becomes involved with the process when the applicant property has wetlands or is within 150 feet of wetlands. Connecticut statutes allow the agency 65 days from the date of receipt to decide on a project. The maximum timeframe that could occur if a public hearing is necessary is 210 days: the initial 65 days, an additional 35 days to leave the public hearing open, 45 days to make a decision and, if necessary, a 65-day extension that may be requested by the MIWA. The applicant may or may not grant the MIWA request for extension. Wetlands issues must be cleared prior to a zoning permit being issued. MIWA works with applicants throughout the process. The biggest obstacle encountered with MIWA relates to applicants who come in unaware of the process and unprepared for what they need to produce to obtain the clearance. Once an application is approved or denied, the applicant is notified by mail; copies go to the Planning and Zoning Department and the City engineer.

5.4.

HEALTH DEPARTMENT

The Health Department usually becomes involved when the property has a septic system and is not on the sewer system. The Health Department is also involved in subsurface sewage disposal and restaurants. Officials work with the applicants and walk them through their component of the overall process. In most cases, the process takes one week to ten days due to scheduling for field testing. It could be as simple as signing off if the necessary information is immediately available. The department cites the major obstacle as applicants who come to them late in their process without having all the required information.

5.5.

SEWER COMMISSION

Approximately 70 percent of the City is attached to the sewer system. The City engineer does the actual sign-offs for the Sewer Commission. The Sewer Commission may become involved if there is a project that impacts the amount of flow to the system. The Sewer Commission may approve or deny applications that come before them. Concerning the Sewer Commission, several issues appear to affect customer satisfaction. The first is that the general public does not understand the process. This is exacerbated due to the lack of continuity and integration between various departments. Applicants have problems connecting with the right person to get underway. Additionally, the whole process stops when key people are not available, particularly in the Planning and Zoning and Building Inspection Departments but also in the other organizational components which play a role in the permitting process.

5.6.

CITY ENGINEER

The City engineer has multiple duties, including sign-off for permit applications where the applicant properties are connected to the sewer system. The City engineer only gets involved with projects that are

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outside of a building, i.e. the exterior. The City engineer’s function can be viewed as a consultant to the Planning and Zoning office. From the perspective of the City Engineer’s office, there is a concern for interoffice communications. The office is not notified of final approvals nor what conditions have been included in them. Additionally, it seems that departments and offices are unaware of the others’ comments regarding applications. Also noted is some duplication of efforts attributed to an absence of clear delineation of responsibilities for each reviewing agency.

5.7.

POLICE DEPARTMENT

The police department is only involved when traffic studies are necessary, at the discretion of the Planning and Zoning Department. Applicants may meet with police officials to review the plans submitted. Police officials review the plan, particularly the traffic issues, but also signing, parking and crime prevention issues. Recommendations are forwarded up the chain of command. The Police Commission provides a final review of the police input in their monthly meetings. The police review report is then sent to the Planning and Zoning Department, with a copy provided to the applicant. Planning and zoning approval is not bound by the recommendations of the police department. Police may see a plan several times if the Planning and Zoning Board denies the application and requires resubmission. Growth of the City and changes in land use are viewed as issues which affect the permitting process. Police personnel who were interviewed suggest the land use / building permitting process would benefit if all reviewing parties were to routinely meet together to provide recommendations and/or approvals, rather than having the applicant travel through the various pre-approval requirements on their own.

5.8.

FIRE DEPARTMENT

Fire marshal duties for the City are primary the responsibility of an assistant fire chief. The fire marshal reviews applicant plans for compliance with state and City codes, as well as fire safety codes and standards. The fire marshal reviews the planning and zoning plans and building construction plans. The length of time it takes to complete the review of the plan depends on the type and complexity of the plan, ranging from several days up to three weeks. Applications come to the fire department addressed to the fire chief. There are times when the chief is not in the office due to duty responsibilities and personal time away from work. When this occurs, a permit application may remain in the office of the chief for several days or more without any action. The resulting delay impacts the processing time for the plan review. Depending on the origin of the application, the fire marshal submits a report to the Building Inspection Department or through the applicant to planning and zoning. Plans must be compliant with the fire code to be approved. The determination of the fire marshal is binding and does not require review by the Fire Commission. Incomplete plans or plans lacking the necessary detail can slow the process. Improved public awareness and education concerning required actions and content of the applications would assist in getting the plans processed in a more timely fashion. A database with access to the other reviewing departments’ comments would be helpful.

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5.9.

TAX ASSESSOR AND TAX COLLECTOR

The tax assessor and tax collector have limited roles in the building permit process. An applicant for a building permit must gain a tax clearance from the tax collector prior to obtaining a building permit. The clearance indicates taxes are paid up-to-date. The process only takes several minutes to complete; however, it requires the applicant to personally appear in the tax collector’s office to request the documentation. Tax records are maintained in an electronic database, supporting on-line queries by office staff. The tax assessor receives a copy of the paper building permit when they are issued. The copy notifies the office that a reassessment may be required as a result of the permitted work. Neither the tax collector nor the assessor has any further involvement in the land use / building permit process.

5.10.

BUILDING INSPECTION DEPARTMENT

If an applicant has all the requisite documentation when they arrive at the Building Inspection Department, they may submit the application for review and approval. The Building Inspection Department’s page on the City website provides a list of documentation required when submitting an application. There is also a page identifying Work Exempt from Permits for One and Two Family Dwellings Only. (See Attachments section) All applications and supporting documents must be submitted in person, meaning either the property owner or contractor representing the property owner must be present. Office policy requires everyone to wait in line: persons with questions, persons submitting “quick permits,” persons submitting applications requiring plan review, persons resubmitting applications, private citizens acting on their own behalf and contractors. When applications are received, office personnel check for all the required documents and contents. Applications requiring less effort, such as decks, pools, additions, porches, and garages, are placed in the “daily line-up.” The initial review on these applications can usually be completed in several hours and a full review can possibly be completed in five-to-ten days when the department is at full staffing. The “commercial plans,” single-family dwellings and larger, are processed in the “back room” and require two days or more for initial review. By law, all application reviews must be completed within 30 days. The application can either be approved or denied within the 30-day period. All application reviews are reportedly “out” within the 30-day period. If an application is denied, it may be submitted again, which starts a new 30-day period. All applicants are advised of the statutory 30-day period, which may serve to establish an expectation and understanding that the process is not to be rushed and does not occur quickly.

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Reportedly, the Building Inspection Department handles the applications “by the book.” While the department may have operated less strictly at one time, the current philosophy requires “black and white compliance.” The 2005 Connecticut State Building Code is the source document referenced by the building inspector. Hours for receiving building permit applications are from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., Monday through Friday and Wednesday afternoons from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The applications are reviewed for all necessary content, attachments and pre-approvals by the building inspectors. Quick permits (electrical, plumbing and mechanical) can be issued at the counter within three to six minutes. Plan (content) reviews at the time of intake can take six to ten minutes. As noted above, all applicants wait in line. Although anecdotal, Kimball was told some applicants have come to the office, waited in line, been turned away at 11:00 and required to come back another day just to get into the office to submit their applications. Although such occurrences were common in the past, procedures were changed in late 2007 to assure no one was turned away at 11:00 after waiting in line. Reportedly, all customers waiting in the hall to submit their plans on a given day are now served. While some users of the system disagree, there is general acknowledgment by the users that the process has improved. The changes in procedures were recommended in an informal study by Christopher Laux, former state building inspector. As a result of the study, someone from the office now goes out to the hall at 10:30 a.m. and again at 10:50 a.m. They check to determine the last person in line at the time and advise the applicants they will complete up to that person. Although not confirmed, the City reportedly has ranked in the top three municipalities in the state for issuance of building permits over the last several years. When issued, permits are still completed on a typewriter. There is only a limited use of computerization used within the office. 2005-06 Fiscal Year Building Permits Issued Occupancy Permits Issued Inspections Provided 4,439 1,097 9,207 2006-07 Fiscal Year 3,936 826 8,712 2007-08 Fiscal Year 3,268 650 8,265 Three Year Total Change (+/-) -1,171 -447 -1,389 Percentage of Difference (+/-) -26 percent -41 percent -15 percent

Table 2: Permitting Data: Building Inspection Department Table 2 lists the services provided by the Building Inspection office and indicates a declining trend in activities for the period. Data was provided by the Building Inspection Department in their annual reports. As described, mornings are when applicants may come into the Building Inspection Department to submit their applications. Afternoons are for conducting inspections. The same staff persons who are responsible for reviewing and approving applications and responding to questions in the office are responsible for conducting on-site inspections. The permit holder is advised the inspector may arrive at an

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unspecified time in the afternoon, and someone must be present when the inspector arrives. A timeframe of a lesser, more specific, time period is not provided. The department began distributing a satisfaction survey in 2007. Of the approximately 4,200 surveys handed out, approximately 2,000 (48 percent) have been returned. For the most part, the results have been positive, with less than ten negative comments. 8 A breakdown of the responses requested by Kimball personnel could not be accommodated because the data from the surveys had not actually been compiled. At the time of writing this report, the data had not yet been received. The Building Inspection Department identifies several obstacles in the current process. The first is that multiple approvals must be obtained by the applicant, complicating the process. The second is that applicants are uneducated concerning the permitting process; and lastly, there are limited personnel available to perform the work. Technology that is available within the industry could enhance efficiency of the Building Inspection Department; however, the staff must also leverage technology with more effective use of staffing resources. Requisite skills and availability of staff for specialized tasking may need to be upgraded to accomplish operational improvement using these tools.

5.11.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

The Community Development Department is not directly involved in the permitting process. The effects of perceived problems within the permitting process, however, are believed to be impacting the willingness of new businesses to establish themselves or expand their operations within the City. Numerous news stories alleging the dampening effect of the current permit environment have been published, creating concern for continuing growth of the City. Permit data provided for the last three years (Figures 1 and 2) seem to support a downward trend, but there is insufficient data to support such a determination conclusively or to attribute the declining numbers to the permitting process. A representative of the Community Development Department proffers the potential benefits of providing more discretion to the Planning and Zoning Department to make determinations, without depending on the Planning and Zoning Commission for decisions. Also suggested is more flexibility when considering what land use is acceptable for light industrial zoned areas. Specialized processing for large projects is seen as an enhancement to supporting incoming business and business expansion.

8

Raucci Interview, August 27, 2008

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6.

COMMENTS FROM USERS OF THE PERMITTING PROCESS

Kimball personnel conducted structured interviews with individuals who have utilized the land use / building permitting process in Milford. The interview instrument is included in this report in the Attachments section of the report. Several individuals interviewed had experience with large projects and both the planning and zoning process and the Building Inspection Department process. These customers identified what they saw as issues associated with obtaining land use and building permits. They were asked for their suggestions to resolve the issues they identified. For some of the persons interviewed, confidentiality was a concern, as they expressed fear that negative comments attributed to them could impede their ability to obtain permits in the future. All persons interviewed also had experience with permitting processes in other Connecticut municipalities. Most were able to verify that there had been some improvement in the time waiting for the building permit to be issued. Several also verified that there are applicants in line that are not prepared for the process and lack required items. Most indicated that the Building Inspection Department was not customer-oriented. They observed that the reviews are thorough and, for the most part, comprehensive. However, the City is the only Building Inspection Department in the area that has a line outside the doors. There is no special privilege or separate process for larger projects to make appointments for review. All applicants, including subcontractors who only need to show proper credentials and make payment to obtain a permit, must wait in line. A common problem occurs when a plan is submitted for review and subsequently rejected. Plans are returned to applicants with notes indicating requirements to be addressed. An applicant can address the noted requirements and return to the Building Inspection Department and wait in line to drop off the corrected plans, only to have the plans rejected again for different reasons. In some cases, there have been numerous iterations of the process, leading to lengthy delays. Several persons interviewed commented there is no sense of urgency with the Building Inspection Department and, at times, the Planning and Zoning Department. The customers perceive there is no appreciation of the time or costs involved with this process for the applicants. Several individuals also commented on issues related to inspections and, in some cases, inspectors not showing up as scheduled. Several cases of duplicate inspections were reported where the applicant ended up going through files and showing that the issue had already been addressed. Applicants indicate that this may be due to not always having the same inspector coming to job sites. They also indicated that certificates of occupancy were delayed in issuance much longer than necessary. Several of those interviewed indicated that Milford is a city in transition. There is minimal new land available for building, and most building is either renovation or change of use of existing land and structures or demolition and the erection of new buildings. Despite being in transition, there is a perception the City is attempting to handle the land use and permitting processes without changing their ordinances and regulations to accommodate evolving conditions and needs.

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Most persons interviewed were clearly aware of the minimal use of electronic systems throughout the process. They indicated computerization of the processes should improve them. It would definitely reduce duplication of inspections. It would also allow the use of personnel other than building inspectors to intake the initial plans and speed up the process. Those interviewed indicated many City personnel involved in the process are helpful in getting their portion of the process completed. They have seen that there are different ways to get the job done and believe that, in some cases, other towns and cities have found ways to do it more effectively and efficiently. They also see the challenges to the permitting process are not only a Building Inspection Department issue but a systemic issue requiring citywide effort to be improved.

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7.

ISSUES SUMMARY

Multiple issues were identified during the assessment that affected the perceptions that the end users held regarding the permitting process. The study affirms each of the departments and offices involved in the process is attempting to provide the best services that they can for the part that they are responsible. Each department or agency attempts to assist the client through their portion as quickly as possible. However, there are few, if any, that see or understand the complete permitting process as it really is. Fragmentation of the permitting process in the City, where departments or agencies focus on parts and not the whole, may be the most significant obstacle to process improvement. City personnel who were interviewed knew their particular responsibility very well and indicated that the applicant was assisted to the best of their ability. Recommended revisions, if any, were usually completed and the applicant was sent on their way to visit the next department or agency. However, as several of the interviewees indicated, they were not aware of others’ recommendations as the applicant went through the process. Additionally, they were not aware of the end product and what recommendations were included or removed. It appears that City personnel limit their focus to their component of the overall permitting process, at the expense of “whole” process. Some personnel have a substantial impact on the project and the ability, intentional or otherwise, to delay progress. Additionally, comments from several persons interviewed indicated they are not aware of what occurs with a project once they complete their segment. Although several persons mentioned the success of the team approach used to facilitate a large project by Schick Razor Company, similar approaches to other projects have not been used. These conditions serve to produce silos of activity, with little or no synergistic effect for the common goal. Addressing the fragmentation may be substantively impaired by local ordinances and entrenched practices of the local authorities and their Boards and Commissions. Organizational and structural modifications supporting process redesign cannot be addressed without a close examination of the relevant ordinances and germane regulations. Related to the disjointed nature of the permitting process, the assessment reveals no ownership is taken for the overall process. There is no “champion” to step forward and accept accountability and responsibility. An applicant, whether a homeowner or a hired contractor, is expected to negotiate the process alone. Applicants who need help have no single source to approach for guidance. There are multiple starting points available to the applicant. If it is a small project, certain qualifiers must be obtained prior to a permit application being accepted and processed. As in other situations, no guidance is available as to which sign off should be gained first and at times, which are needed. Even the departments involved in the process do not share a common understanding of the requirements. For example, building inspections asserts the Planning and Zoning Department must sign off on every building permit application. Planning and zoning disagrees and has requested verification of the requirement. In the course of researching the assessment, Kimball verified State Building Code regulations do require the sign-off (Refer to §105.3.1.1 of the Code). Several organizational components, including the Milford Inland Wetlands Department, Milford Health Department (septic systems), City engineer or sewer commission (public sewer system), fire marshal or Milford Tax Collector, can delay a project until their approval is gained. Delays may be for a variety of

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reasons, ranging from missing documentation, to soil sampling, to key City personnel being unavailable to perform their review. Delays in obtaining the approvals can virtually cause a project to wait until the next building season. Several of the involved departments and agencies have commented on staffing being an issue. In particular, some interviewees were concerned with the staff being inadequate for the job performed. Although there have been staffing increases in several of the agencies, it has had a limited impact on the perceptions of the applicants. Several interviewees also indicated that the City is in a period of change where renovation and change of use of current land and buildings is becoming more predominant than new building. A lack of flexibility is cited in considering the creative re-use of land in the City. Written policies, or the lack thereof, and outdated ordinances may also be an issue with the process. From several sources, there is a lack of clarity regarding order of precedence for approval requirements at the department, board or commission or State agency levels. Some approvals require hearings to be conducted from boards that meet on a monthly basis, while others can be completed by the professional staff involved with the approval. According to several of the interviewees, there was not a clear distinction of what they could complete administratively and what must be passed through a board or commission. Ambiguity contributes to duplication of efforts in some cases. Revisions by one department may lead to issues with another that had already approved the plan. The physical separations of the various participating authorities, as well as the absence of a single source of information for applicants or other stakeholders to view permitting procedures, handicap the process. As previously mentioned, many of the departments and agencies involved are located at the Parsons Government Center. The Parsons Center has no clearly-indicated main entrance and no current accurate map or directory. A receptionist is only available on a part-time basis to assist those looking for specific offices. Some of the offices necessary to visit as an applicant are located throughout the building, not in one specific area. Other offices, such as police, fire and health, are located elsewhere. Additionally, parking is an issue due to the limited parking available downtown and the time restrictions on the parking of one, two or three hours. There appears to be a reluctance to use technology to improve the current process. Training is available throughout the year to learn basics of the programs currently available from the IS department but is not utilized by some of the departments and/or offices involved with the permitting process. Software is available but not utilized. The City website is available for information to the public and others, but its use is inconsistent from agency to agency and generally underutilized. One observation shared by several of the City personnel was the additional education needed by the public for what is needed to obtain a permit. Zoning applications are still searched manually, while building permits are still issued through the use of a typewriter. Changes to electronic mediums can be challenging but can be extremely beneficial when implemented.

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8.

GIS, INFRASTRUCTURE AND OTHER TECHNOLOGY

The management of spatial, or location-based, information has long been an important function of local government. Many of the decisions made by government are based on location information. Traditionally, this function has been accomplished through the use of hard copy maps that are updated by hand. Leveraging information technology to manage spatial data in digital form can greatly increase the effectiveness of local government. A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a collection of software technologies designed to create, maintain and use digital spatial information. In local government, digital spatial data typically includes aerial photography, road centerlines, tax parcels and address information. GIS software is used to manage spatial data, as well as combine it with other digital data to create new information that can be used by government and the public to make decisions. A typical GIS implementation can be described in terms of four basic components. The success of the implementation is dependent upon how well these components function and how well they integrate with each other and with the larger organization. • System Infrastructure The system infrastructure includes the server hardware, operating systems, database management systems and networking that serve as the foundation for managing spatial data and delivering applications to the end users. The quality of the infrastructure and how well it is maintained determine how effectively spatial information can be utilized within the organization. GIS Data The core component of the system is the spatial data itself. The quality of the data and the layers available determine how useful the GIS applications will be to the end users. GIS Software and Applications The GIS applications include the data management software required to manage the spatial data and the client applications that allow end users to interact with the spatial information. Organization and Management The personnel that implement and manage the GIS system are critical to its success. Also critical is how the GIS staff is integrated in the organization and how the GIS is integrated into the overall IT infrastructure.

•

•

•

8.1.

SYSTEM INFRASTRUCTURE

All City departments that participate in the permitting process and have a need for GIS data are currently connected to the City network. Consistent connectivity and adequate performance are critical to the deployment of GIS data and applications. GIS applications typically require more network capacity than normal due to the unusually large amount of data that must be transported to support the GIS client applications. There do not seem to be any connectivity issues or network outages on the City network, but some performance issues do exist.

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The current GIS infrastructure is file-based with two ways for users to access the GIS data from the central data store. In some cases this data is accessed directly on the central file server over the network by GIS clients. End users access the data with a lighter-weight client (ArcView) to make maps and query information, while GIS staff uses higher-level clients (ArcInfo) to manage the data in the central data store. In other cases (police, fire and health), the network performance does not allow direct access to the files; so data is copied manually to remote servers and accessed by the clients from the local file server on the local network segment. All users have access to the full catalog of GIS data managed by the City, but there are some issues with this approach. The response time when using GIS clients to access file-based datasets over the network is relatively slow. This is to be expected, even on a fast network, because the client must open the file on the remote server and transfer a large amount of detailed data to the client to be processed. The larger bandwidth requirements impact not only the GIS client speed but also impact other network applications. Working with file-based data sources also requires a more robust desktop environment, especially more memory, to get adequate performance. Maintaining multiple copies of the data presents some issues as well. The copies in other departments must be updated periodically, resulting in additional workload. The additional copies could be updated at the remote location and may become out of sync with the primary data store. Changes to the primary data cannot be deployed everywhere in real time. Multi-user capabilities can be limited with file-based data.

8.2.

GIS DATA

The City has an extensive GIS data catalog that provides City departments with a comprehensive set of data layers. The base of the catalog is six-inch color orthophotography, flown in 2005-06. Oblique aerial photography from Pictometry is available to the City through a state program. Complete planimetric layers, such as centerlines, buildings and hydrography, are available, as well as planning layers such as zoning and the CMA boundary. A number of environmental layers, including contours, spot elevations and wetlands, are available. There are no glaring omissions in the City’s data catalog; nearly all the layers necessary to support typical city mapping needs, including the building permit process, are available. Utility features are not well-represented in the City’s data catalog due to the fact that the public utilities do not release all of their data. A limited number of layers, such as hydrants, are available; but the City must recreate these layers. The hydrant layer is complete;sewers, storm sewers, and utility poles are currently under development. All of these utility layers will greatly enhance the data catalog. The combination of the six-inch orthophotography and the Pictometry data makes an excellent mapping base, but in the coming years this data will become obsolete. At present, there is no funding in place to update the aerial photography. This may become an issue in coming years as the City landscape changes and the photography becomes more and more out of date. The Pictometry data is an excellent resource, especially for public safety. It represents the cutting edge in aerial photography data and greatly enhances the City’s GIS catalog. The data is currently deployed using the ArcGIS Pictometry extension.

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8.3.

GIS SOFTWARE AND APPLICATIONS

The City uses a file-based GIS model and stores the data files on a central server. Under this model, all processing occurs on client computers and not on the server. The central server simply serves the files over the network. All personnel who use GIS must have GIS software installed and have access to a license to run the software. The City uses ESRI GIS software and implements a central license server that distributes licenses to the client software located on end user computers. The client software is licensed at different levels based on the functionality available. The casual users who only view and query data run ArcView software, and advanced users who manage data use the ArcInfo license level. There are six concurrent licenses and four single-seat licenses. There are some drawbacks to this software model. New users must have the client software installed before they can access the GIS data, making it more difficult to bring new users online. As the user base grows, more concurrent licenses may have to be purchased and added to the system to support peak demand. Since the number of licenses is limited, conflicts can arise if too many users try to use the software at the same time. The number of licenses must be balanced so that peak usage load is supported and yearly maintenance charges are minimized. To date, the license conflict issue has not been a problem among the ArcView users but could become an issue as the GIS user base grows. More casual users will increase the license costs for the ArcView software. The single ArcInfo level license is shared by the GIS staff. Data management workload will increase as GIS usage increases and the need for a second ArcInfo license will become apparent. It would be a good idea to have a second ArcInfo level license to avoid conflicts and increase productivity. The GIS data, client software and user support is readily available to all departments in the City; but not all departments take advantage of the tools. One way to help make GIS more accessible to the users is the deployment of custom functionality. The client software can be enhanced with custom functions that insulate end users from the complexity of the system and make the data they need more readily available. An example would be custom search tools that accept an address or parcel number from the user and make a map of that location. The user can then make maps by just typing the information and clicking a single button. A custom GIS application can be built to provide easy access to the mapping used in the permit process. This system would replace hard copy mapping and other sources that are not user friendly. The application would be on the desktop in zoning or with the person serving as the entry point to the permit process. The user would enter an address, name or parcel number to locate the applicant’s tax parcel. The application would then create a map of the parcel showing zoning, parcels, CMA, sewage and any other information available that is useful in the permit process. The information needed for the permit applications will be readily available and the map can be printed out and included in the permit application for future reference.

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8.4.

ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT OF TECHNOLOGY

Organizational and staffing issues often determine the success or failure of a GIS implementation, more so than technology issues. Adequate staffing is necessary to allow the GIS implementation to reach full potential. Even more important is how the GIS staff and GIS functions are integrated into the existing organization. Improper placement can create organizational problems and lead to failure. The City is fortunate to have dedicated GIS staff that has the ability to manage the system as well as support the users. The GIS staff is located in the Information Technology (IT) department and is independent of the departments that consume GIS services. This is a very good arrangement because it prevents GIS from being “owned” by any single department and assures that the GIS resources are spread across all departments evenly.

8.5.

SUMMARY OF GIS

The City has a very good GIS implementation. The data catalog is comprehensive, and quality staff resources are in place to maintain the system and support users. The network infrastructure is adequate to deliver GIS data to all departments. The users who have chosen to take advantage of GIS have been well served with data and support. The City has reached the point where a move to a more advanced GIS model should be considered. The file-based data / thick client software model in use by the City is a very common model and is a perfectly adequate way to do GIS. Most organizations use this model as a starting point and implement it successfully for a long time. However, as the user base grows and demand for data and applications increases, an enterprise GIS approach may be a better option. Enterprise GIS refers to an approach used to implement GIS within an organization. An enterprise GIS integrates GIS software with the existing IT infrastructure more closely, allowing the digital data and GIS services to be shared efficiently and seamlessly throughout the organization. Each department within the organization uses GIS to support their own data, devices and work processes; but data and resources are also shared with other departments. This approach satisfies the needs of all users while eliminating redundancy and gaining a return on the GIS investment. The enterprise approach involves storing the data within a relational database management system like SQL Server and using server-based software to publish maps and applications to end users, in many cases without the need for client software. The Relational Data Base Management System (RDBMS) provides faster access and better multi user capabilities. New users can be brought online easily. Additional software is required, but some of this cost is offset by savings in client licenses since many users will be able to access GIS with only a web browser. The enterprise implementation will also make it much easier to integrate the GIS data with other systems, such as Centralized Automatic Messaging Accounting and a potential permit management system. The network connectivity and server environment already in place provide the base needed to move from a file-based environment to an enterprise GIS system.

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9.

CONCLUSION

Applicants to the building permit process have indicated that the system is broken, slow or not user friendly. The current process appears to have shortcomings but improvements, however slight, have occurred in recent months. Users have commented that the time and numbers in line at the building inspection office has decreased and appears to be improved from the previous year. However, lines still occur. Experience in other cities suggests there are better ways to manage the process. Although staffing may be an element to be addressed, there are additional options available to address the issues. Through the assessment described in this report, the City has initiated a process improvement effort which can help the City increase its effectiveness through continuous self-examination, with a view to doing things better. Having documented processes, roles and responsibilities may be more readily identified; associated activities may be performed as specified and legacy processes may be modified to reflect organizational change.

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ATTACHMENTS
ATTACHMENT 1 – MEMORANDUM FROM MAYOR, AUGUST 22, 2008

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ATTACHMENT 2 – CITY PERSONNEL INTERVIEWED

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City Personnel Interviewed

James Richetelli, Jr. John O’Connell David Sulkis Emmeline Harrigan Linda Stock Thomas Raucci Mary Ellen DeRosa Robert Brinton Raymond Macaluso Laura Miller Assistant Fire Chief Lee Cooke MaryRose Palumbo Judy Haley Daniel Thomas Robert Gregory Captain Tracy Mooney Sergeant Daniel Sharoh Jean Lasczak John W. Hangen

Personnel

Mayor Assistant to the Mayor City Planner Assistant City Planner Zoning Enforcement Officer Chief Building Official Building Inspection Department City Engineer Sewer Consultant - Westcott and Mapes, Inc. Environmental Health Division Administrator Fire Marshal Inland Wetlands Officer Tax Collector Assessor Economic and Community Development Milford Police Milford Police Coordinator, Management Information Systems GIS Coordinator

Position

FINAL ASSESSMENT REPORT ON LAND USE AND CONSTRUCTION PERMITTING SUBMITTED TO THE CITY OF MILFORD, CONNECTICUT

ATTACHMENT 3 – CITY PERSONNEL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

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  Milford Land Use Permitting Process Assessment and Reengineering Project Interview Questions Demographics: Name/Title/Position/Agency

Time In Position -

1. From Whom and How Do you receive Permit Applications?

2. What do you do with the Application (Process)?

3. What tools/resources do you use/need to complete your process?

4. What roadblocks to you encounter in processing permit applications?

5. What is your work product?

6. How long does it take to complete your process(s)?

7. To whom/where do you forward the application when you are completed with it? 8. 9. Do you believe the process can be improved? a. If yes: b. If no: How would you modify the process if you could? Why do you think there is a perception of inefficiency regarding the process?

10.

Do you have any additional comments about anything that I have not mentioned?

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ATTACHMENT 4 – APPLICANT INTERVIEW INSTRUMENT

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Permit Applicant Interview 
  Name: Applicant Type (Contractor, Developer, private citizen, etc.)

Land Owner/ Owner Representative: Describe

Work in Other Municipalities: Y / N Describe your experience with the Milford Permitting Process. Problems/Resolution: (Use reverse side if needed.)

Success: (Use reverse side if needed.)

Compare with Other Municipalities: (Use reverse side if needed.)  

FINAL ASSESSMENT REPORT ON LAND USE AND CONSTRUCTION PERMITTING SUBMITTED TO THE CITY OF MILFORD, CONNECTICUT

ATTACHMENT 5 – MILFORD BUILDING DEPARTMENT SAMPLE BUILDING PERMIT

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ATTACHMENT 6 – BUILDING INSPECTION PERMIT REQUIREMENTS

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Do You Have Everything You Need Before You Apply For A Permit?
Planning & Zoning Approval City Fire Marshall Approval: for everything other than one and two family dwellings and their accessory structures. Sewer Commission Department Approval: if the structure is on or going to be connected to public sewers. City Health Department Approval: for food establishments, connection to a septic tank, etc. Tax Clearance Certificate: No permit will be issued until a certificate has been obtained from the Tax Collector’s Office. Worker’s Compensation Certificate: proof of worker’s compensation insurance certificate with the “City of Milford” as the certificate holder. (Or, if a homeowner, a worker’s compensation affidavit form.) Please be sure that building permit applications are properly filled out in their entirety. If a person, other than the owner, applies for a building permit application, it must be signed on the back by the owner authorizing the applicant to do the proposed work. Where applicable, a State of Connecticut License/Registration number must be presented with your application. In addition to any other requirements, the State of Connecticut Building Code requires the following information: Application for Permit (2) Sets of Construction Plans Description of Work Site Plan

The Chief Building Inspector is allowed a period of 30 days to review all permits before issuance once all the proper information is provided. Please Note: Permits cannot be mailed in. You must appear in person during permitting hours: 8:30-11:00 a.m., Monday-Friday.

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ATTACHMENT 7 – PLANNING AND ZONING TRANSMITTAL FORM

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ATTACHMENT 8 – MILFORD PLANNING AND ZONING PERMIT INFORMATION

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GENERAL ZONING PERMIT INFORMATION – HOMEOWNERS Additions to Existing Dwellings & Accessory Structures Only Information contained herein is not all-inclusive as there may be more requirements needed for approval of the permit i.e. Wetlands, Flood Hazard, etc. Permit Hours: 8:30 a.m. thru 11:30 a.m. Fee: $42.00

An application for a zoning permit shall be submitted to the Zoning Enforcement Officer prior to construction, reconstruction, extension, enlargement, moving or alteration of any building, or other structure and prior to the use of occupancy of any land, building or other structure. Applicants for Zoning Permits are required to submit the following information: Two copies of a plot plan drawn to scale or survey showing lot and building dimensions and the location of all structures in relation to the front, side and rear lot lines. Applicants submitting plot plans, other than certified surveys, may be required to verify their accuracy. PLEASE NOTE: Edges of the street pavement are not property lines. should not be assumed to be accurate lines. Fences

4.1.2 Corner Lots: On a corner lot, front yards are required on both street frontages, and one yard other than the front yard shall be deemed to be a rear yard and the others, side yards. 4.1.3 Through Lots: On a through lot, front yards are required on all streets.

4.1.4 Projections into Required Yards: The space in any required yard shall be open and unobstructed except for the ordinary projection of open entries, steps, stoops, or porches, cantilever roofs, eaves, cornices, chimneys, belt courses, window sills, balconies and similar architectural features, provided that such features shall not project more than four feet into any required yard nor more than a distance equal to twenty percent of the required yard. 4.1.8 Existing Setback Lines: If on one side of the street within a given block and within 150 feet of any lot there is pronounced uniformity of a building setback lines greater than or lesser than the minimum required front yard, a front yard shall be required in connection with any new building which shall conform, as nearly as practical, with those existing on the adjacent lots; except that no such building shall be required to be set back from the street a distance greater than 50 feet. (Amended effective 3/21/92)

ACCESSORY BUILDINGS A building which is clearly incidental or subordinate to, customarily in connection and located on the same lot with the principal building or use; and the cubic footage and floor area of such accessory building do not exceed 50% of same of the principal building. Examples are detached garages, shed and swimming pools. 4.1.1 Accessory Buildings in Residential Districts: Accessory buildings shall conform to the following requirements governing their location upon a lot: 4.1.1.1 4.1.1.2 No accessory building shall be located in any required front yard. Side and rear yard requirements in accordance with the applicable Residential District. (See Schedule of Lot & Building Requirements Sec. 3.1.4.1). No accessory building shall exceed 15 feet in height. No accessory building shall be less than 8 feet from a dwelling unit.

4.1.1.3 4.1.1.4

Pool Permits – The applicant is required to proceed to the Building Department with the Zoning Permit. The applicant is also required to have Health Department Approval and a Tax Clearance Form from the Tax Office before proceeding to the Building Department. WATERBODIES & WATERCOURSES 4.1.16.2 No building or structure shall be constructed or located within 25 feet of the seasonal high water level, mean high watermark, or legally established boundary of any tidal waterbody, watercourse, wetland or flood hazard area (natural or man-made and named or unnamed); and further provided that: (Amended effective 10/8/94) (1) Any building or structure to be constructed or located within 150 feet of any wetland shall be subject to review by the Milford Inland Wetlands Agency. (Effective 10/8/94) (2) No revetment, seawall, bulkhead, fence or similar flood and erosion control works shall be erected higher than two feet above the regulatory flood protection elevations.

SPECIAL FLOOD ZONE AREAS Any additions within the flood zone areas must be constructed at or above the regulatory flood zone elevation. 4.1.15 No land, building, structure or use shall be developed, constructed, or occupied below the regulatory flood protection elevation, except in accordance with the Flood Hazard Regulations, Section 5.8 herein. (Renumbered effective 1/9/93) Homeowners applying for permits to construct substantial additions to or perform substantial renovations to an existing home will be required to raise the existing house to the designated flood elevation for their area. Section 5.8 Flood Hazard and Flood Damage Prevention Regulations, of the City of Milford Zoning Regulations, further explains requirements.

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ATTACHMENT 9 – PLANNING AND ZONING GENERAL INFORMATION

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WHEN ARRIVING IN PERSON Be prepared to fully present your plan, we need to know your full intentions. If you need more complex assistance, please make an appointment with one of our planners. Please avoid arriving at 11:30 (lunch) or 4:25 (closing) with complicated requests. * Do not drop off unexpected items at the counter SAVE TIME Many questions can be answered on the phone, so please call the office at 7833245. We do ask that you give your name when calling and make note of ours as well. Be specific and candid when providing information so that you receive the correct information. All files & agenda are public information. Zoning Maps are available for your viewing upon request of the staff. REGULATIONS Planning & Zoning Regulations may be purchased for $ 30.00 Subdivision Regulations may be purchased for $ 10.00 Both may be purchased for $ 35.00 PLANNING & ZONING VARIOUS BOARDS Regular meeting of Full Board – 1st Tuesday Conference Room A, Parsons Building Zoning Board of Appeals - 2nd Tuesday City Hall, 110 River Street

Personnel & Policy Committee – 2nd Tuesday Conference Room A, Parsons Building

Planning Committee Meeting — 2nd Tuesday Plan of Development Conference Room A Parsons Building

Public Hearing & Regular Meeting -3rd Tuesday City Hall, 110 River Street

Committee Meetings - Last Tuesday Subdivision & Special Permits Zoning & Regulations Conference Room A, Parsons Building

Projects involved in the Public Hearing process cannot be discussed with Board Members.

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ATTACHMENT 10 – CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEY

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ATTACHMENT 11 – COMMUNITY WEBSITES SURVEYED

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Community Websites Researched City or Town Woodbury Ledyard Westport Bridgeport Hartford Madison Salem Greenwich Bethany Bristol Farmington Danbury New Hartford Windsor Groton Stamford Bethel East Haven Stratford Coventry Simsbury Killingly New London Internet Address Utilized for Website http://www.woodburyct.org/permits.shtml http://www.town.ledyard.ct.us/FAQ.asp http://www.westportct.gov/agencies/landuse/building/when_permit.htm http://ci.bridgeport.ct.us/buildingdepa.aspx http://www.hartford.gov/Development/lic-inspect/lic-build-permitapp.htm http://www.madisonct.org/Building_Dept/bldgdept.htm http://www.salemct.gov/salem_forms_apps_pubs/building_dept/acquire_bldg_per mit.pdf http://www.greenwichct.org/FAQList.asp?did=22 http://www.bethany-ct.com/townoffices/t_BuildingDept.asp http://www.ci.bristol.ct.us/content/3478/3577/3583/default.aspx http://www.farmington-ct.org/Forms/Permits/ http://www.ci.danbury.ct.us/content/41/164/233/287.aspx http://www.town.new-hartford.ct.us/buildingmain.html http://www.townofwindsorct.com/building/index.htm http://www.town.groton.ct.us/depts/plandev/isvcs.asp http://www.cityofstamford.org/content/25/52/138/164/172/521/4845/default.aspx http://www.bethelct.org/building/bldg_fees.html http://www.townofeasthaven.com/building.html http://www.townofstratford.com/content/1302/402/599/default.aspx http://www.coventryct.org/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={E8F758B0-6E7D4B08-B151-4061B3818C56} http://www.townofsimsbury.com/Public_Documents/Departments/SimsburyCT_B uilding/index http://www.killingly.org/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={6639E5F9-547546CF-ACCA-96885093DD40} http://www.ci.new-london.ct.us/content/27/55/312/default.aspx

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ATTACHMENT 12 – WORK EXEMPT FROM PERMIT

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Work Exempt from Permits for One and Two Family Dwellings Only
Building 1. Fences not over 6 ft. high. 2. Retaining walls that are not over 3 ft. in height measure from finished grade at the bottom of the wall to finished grade at the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge. 3. Water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2 to 1. 4. Sidewalks, driveways and on-grade concrete or masonry patios not more than 30 inches above adjacent grade and not over any basement or story below. 5. Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, countertops and similar finish work not involving structural changes or alterations. 6. Prefabricated swimming pools that are less than 24 inches deep. 7. Swings, non-habitable tree houses and other playground equipment. 8. Window awnings supported by an exterior wall which do not project more than 54 inches from the exterior wall and which do not require additional support. Electrical Repairs and maintenance: A permit shall not be required for minor repair work, including replacement of lamps and fuses or the connection of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles. Gas 1. 2. 3.

Portable heating or cooking appliances with a self-contained fuel supply. Replacement of any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make such equipment unsafe. Portable fuel cell appliances that are not connected to a fixed piping system and are not interconnected to a power grid.

Mechanical 1. Portable heating appliances with a self-contained fuel supply. 2. Portable ventilation appliances. 3. Portable cooling units. 4. Steam, hot or chilled water piping contained within any heating or cooling equipment regulated by Chapters 19 through 24 of the Connecticut State Building Code. 5. Replacement of any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make such equipment unsafe. 6. Portable evaporative coolers. 7. Self-contained refrigeration systems containing 10 lbs. Or less of refrigerant or that are actuated by motors of 1 horsepower or less. 8. Portable fuel cell appliances that are not connected to a fixed piping system and are not interconnected to a power grid. Plumbing 1. The stopping leaks in drains, water, soil, waste or vent pipe; provided, however, that if any concealed trap, drainpipe, water, soil, waste or vent pipe becomes defective and it becomes necessary to remove and replace the same with new material, such work shall be considered as new work and a permit shall be obtained and inspection made as provided in Sections R105 and R109 of this code. 2. The clearing of stoppages or the repairing of leaks in pipes, valves or fixtures, and the removal and reinstallation of water closets, provided such repairs do not involve or require the replacement or rearrangement of valves, pipes or fixtures.  


								
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