The Jefferson County Planning and Zoning Department took too long to approve permits in September, county commissioner Scott Hancock said Nov. 4. Kevin Hathaway, planning and zoning administrator, said that is not the case.
Hathaway said planning and zoning has a 10-day, self-imposed limit for completing permits, though he said commercial permits typically could go over that.
“That’s not an ordinance, that’s not a state requirement or anything else,” he said. “That’s just a time-limit that we placed for ourselves.
In the Nov. 4 meeting, Hancock told county planner Jenny Kerr he was concerned planning and zoning was “slipping a little bit.”
“I think we’re doing okay, but yeah, maybe,” Commissioner Shayne Young said, following Hancock’s comment.
Kerr pointed out the permits taking much longer than the department’s 10-day approval window had notes next to them. According to the notes, one permit for a single family dwelling took 25 days because the contractor had to fix site plans, it did not meet one of the requirements and included no information on the well or septic. Another single family dwelling took 13 days because plans were missing the main floor page. Finally, two solar panel permits took longer because the plans had the incorrect snow load.
Hancock said not all of the permits that went significantly past 10 days had notes next to them. A manufactured home permit took 14 days while a commercial building permit took 13 days. Kerr said commercial permits took longer by nature.
“Commercials do take longer because we have to wait on Central Fire,” Kerr said.
Mark Fillmore, a plans examiner in Bonneville County, said in Bonneville County, commercial permits take 15 to 20 days, while a single family dwelling permit can be completed in 10.
“Commercial buildings are way more complicated than houses,” Fillmore said.
Fillmore said permits in Bonneville County take 10 to 20 days to complete with a six-person staff working on 85 to 100 permits per month. In comparison, Jefferson County planning and zoning has a policy of taking 10 days for all permits, and has four people working on about 30 to 60 permits per month.
In September, planning and zoning took 9.56 days on average to approve permits, according to statistics provided to county commissioners. In October, the department took 8.59 days on average. Hancock said October looked good.
In July, the planning and zoning department started providing commissioners with the permit approval time statistics on a monthly basis at the commissioners’ request. The previous month, Hancock said he had been receiving complaints about permits taking too long to be issued. Kevin Hathaway, planning and zoning administrator, has since said those complaints were unfounded.
Hathaway said planning and zoning has, on average, met the 10-day limit every month in 2019, with the exception of one or two spring months. He said that longer approval time was due to the department moving into the new County Courthouse Annex building.