Gone are the days of having to do all business on paper and in person – just ask St. Charles County’s Community Development Department. Whether it’s an application for a building permit or a property maintenance complaint, businesses and citizens now can receive services through the department online. The benefits? Convenience, time savings, and more efficient customer service.
Community Development began utilizing Citizenserve in its full capacity in 2016. The online portal allows users to apply for land development and zoning applications, contractor licenses and building permits, as well as report code enforcement concerns. The system has created numerous efficiencies for the department and users:
- Applicants can submit building and development plans through the system. In the past, an applicant would have to submit the plans by mail or in person, as well as submit multiple copies per County code and pay for the expense. Additionally, plans are now stored electronically rather than in paper form, saving resources and space.
- Plans submitted are reviewed by all the department’s divisions – Building and Code Enforcement, Development Review, and Planning & Zoning – within the Citizenserve system. This creates a comprehensive, time-stamped record of work and comments. After review, the submitter receives a letter with comments and next steps from all divisions. In the past, plans were shared in paper format between the divisions and an applicant could receive several letters.
- Progress on applications and plan reviews can be seen in real time on Citizenserve by both staff and the applicant.
- Applicants can schedule inspections at any time through the system, rather than only during business hours.
- Inspectors can bring up plans and codes on a tablet through the system while on a job site instead of juggling paper copies.
- Contractors can renew licenses online.
- Citizens can view the progress and resolution of code enforcement issues that are reported.
While Citizenserve has moved Community Development online, the department recognizes that not everyone is computer-savvy or wants to utilize the system. Staff always is available to meet applicants, handle plan and application submissions in person and answer questions. Providing the best customer service is their main priority.
As a former employee, it is exciting to see these changes in Community Development. Be sure to check out the Citizenserve portal yourself!