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County seeks solutions to permitting backlog

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by Rocco Maglio

As a result of the COVID-19 lockdown many people have spent more time at home over the past year. The additional time spent at home appears to have resulted in an increase of home renovation projects, which has in turn led to a large permitting backlog as more permits are requested.

In Hernando County, the current wait time for a permit is several weeks at minimum, although it may be possible to speed up the process in emergency cases. If you are planning on building, submit your permit as soon as possible, because it can take a while to be approved.

According to County Administrator Jeff Rogers, the current backlog is partially due to staffing. He is in the process of requesting additional staff to review permits. Currently, the staff is working overtime reviewing permits. They have added personnel in the zoning department and building department and the BOCC approved two new positions for the building department at their April 27 meeting. 

The positions added this week are an Inspector/Plans Examiner to verify compliance with ordinances and Florida Building Codes and a Customer Service Specialist to provide immediate assistance with questions, concerns and guidance to the correct departments. 

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Several types of permits are being converted to instant self issuing such as roofing, windows, and doors permits.  With a self-issuing permit, the contractor certifies the work. Additionally, the county has increased their ability to take permits electronically to expedite the process.

The county had to cut several positions a few years ago, because of difficult economic times brought on by the 2008 housing bubble. There was also little building going on at that time.

Many of the building codes are set at the state level, so reducing the required permits would require changes at the state level. The county is addressing the backlog, but at the moment, plan for permitting approval to take a couple of months to avoid any surprises. 

“While there is a several week delay in getting a permit, the county is working to adjust to the large increase in the number of permits for the growing community,” stated County Administrator Jeff Rogers.

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