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St. Pete implements program aimed at streamlining building permits

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Small construction projects in St. Pete are about to get a little easier. Mayor Rick Kriseman announced Tuesday the “Stop, Drop & Go” program to ease the permitting process on what the city refers to as small over-the-counter commercial projects.

Examples of work that would qualify for the new permitting process include kitchen or bathroom remodels or door and window replacement.

Contractors doing such work can drop plans off at the Construction Services and Permitting office before noon and receive the necessary documents after 3 p.m. the next day. To make it even easier, those individuals can receive a text, email or phone notification when the plans are ready.

“I am pleased the City of St. Petersburg can offer this innovative, smart solution the help contractors save valuable time,” Kriseman said. “St. Petersburg is experiencing a lot of growth right now, and I believe this program can only help. I thank the staff of our Construction Services & Permitting Department for asking for ideas from our end-users, listening and thinking creatively to come up with innovative ideas to address their concerns.”

The new process is a result of a challenge Kriseman signed on to earlier this year called “Start up in a Day.” The National League of Cities challenge encourages cities to look for improvements that streamline the permitting process.

“I joined with President Obama in calling on our colleagues at city halls across the country to make a powerful pledge to streamline and consolidate all for the processes required to start a business,” said Maria Contreras-Sweet, head of the Small Business Administration.

A survey conducted of the permitting process in March found that there was a need to better accommodate smaller construction projects in the city.

“We’ve established a program that helps to get our contractors to work quickly, rather than being held up in processes,” said Rick Dunn, a St. Pete building official.

According to the city the program is the first of its kind in the region. The goal is to eliminate lobby wait times and provide more time in the field conducting business. The city also expects the process to reduce traffic on its busiest days. Those are Tuesday and Thursday when officials review over-the-counter plans.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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