Denver Community Planning and Development has been struggling to keep up with the review and approval of development permits–but relief could be on the way soon.
An influx of post-pandemic applications combined with staffing shortages have left the department with a backlog of permits to review and approve. Initial review for a major residential project, like a new home, usually takes about four weeks. Right now, it’s taking 13 weeks on average. Meanwhile, new permit requests are still “coming in hot,” says Amanda Weston, the department’s marketing and communications specialist, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Some relief, however, is in sight. The office spent the summer aggressively recruiting new hires, filling 20 of 50 vacancies. They’ve also hired a third-party planning review firm to pitch in. Overtime has been authorized for reviewers and inspectors and a new first-in, first-out queuing system will move projects to the first-available reviewer, instead of letting them pile up in any one individual’s stack.
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“Everything is definitely moving in a positive direction,” Weston says. “But are people going to see an immediate difference? No.”
New staff members and the third-party firm are being trained on Denver’s many codes and rules and the office still has 30 vacancies to fill. Weston says builders can expect to see some relief in a few months and the goal is to have the backlog addressed by the first quarter of 2023.
In the meantime, builders can help speed up the application process by thoroughly reviewing and completing their applications before submitting. If the reviewer returns with comments or questions, make sure to address all the items flagged to avoid additional review cycles, Weston says.
Builders should also use the office as a resource. Staff are available for in-person, pre-application meetings to go over all necessary steps and materials.
“We really encourage people to make an appointment and come in to discuss what’s needed to make their project happen.,” Weston says. “We can go into extensive detail about your project and speak to what all we’re going to need, so hopefully we can reduce the number of revision cycles.”