City to make permitting easier with new electronic system

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The City of Cranston is launching a new electronic permitting system that will make the process of applying for and receiving permits much easier and more cost-effective.

Residents and contractors will be able to apply for a permit, submit building plans and check the status of their applications from anywhere. The city will now also be able to accept online payments with a credit card and city employees can track the flow of a permit from department to department during the review and approval process.

Drawings and other documents can be uploaded and attached to the permit as well. City inspectors will be able to use tablets to conduct site reviews and approve permits from the field and applicants will get e-mail updates, letting them know when their permit is making progress and ultimately approved.

“Our new e-permitting system will help Cranston residents apply for and obtain proper permits quickly and easily,” said Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung. “Our staff has been working hard for months to ensure a smooth rollout and I think people will appreciate its ease of use and functionality.”

The new system launches Tuesday, November 28 after months of preparation by city employees working in conjunction with the state Department of Administration.

“The new system should save time for people because they wont always have to come to the counter to apply for a permit,” said Building Official Stanley Pikul. “Customers will appreciate being able to do it all from home.”

The initiative is designed to promote economic growth by cutting red tape and expediting the permitting process for both taxpayers and municipal employees. The system was designed and implemented at no cost to the city. Cranston is one of a handful of communities that signed on to be early adopters of the statewide e-permitting system and is the largest municipality to launch so far. The rollout began with the State Building Commissioners Office and the State Fire Marshal and has since expanded to include 10 pilot communities.

The city expects permits to be approved more quickly and efficiently, saving time for both applicants and city employees. In addition to streamlining the permit application process, the system provides a means to research the history of each property and see what permits have been applied for and approved over the years.

The system can be used to apply for building, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire safety permits. Members of the city’s Public Works, Planning, Fire and Tax Assessor Departments have been involved in the planning and rollout process.

Along with the convenience and transparency benefits associated with e-permitting, the new system makes it easier to validate contractors and make sure they are licensed and registered. The system automatically checks if a contractor is registered and certified and will prevent a contractor not certified in a specific specialty (asbestos, lead, radon) from receiving such permits.

Fung noted that Cranston’s GIS manager Maria Giarrusso played a pivotal role in the development and planning process ahead of the rollout. She and everyone else who worked on the project deserve special recognition for their efforts, the mayor said.

The city is planning a public workshop for residents and contractors to see the system in action. The system can be found at cranstonri.viewpointcloud.com. The state has developed a series of tutorials for using the new permitting system available at permits.ri.gov/tutorial.

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