Navigating the process of obtaining permits, securing inspections, and applying for necessary licenses and approvals within the Borough is entirely too slow and confusing. The Borough Council has been working much of this year to understand the way the Building Department functions and proposing solutions that streamline many of the basic things residents and businesses need to proceed with improvements, renovations, construction, and opening a business.
There’s a lot of work that still needs to be completed in order to reduce the number of visits to the borough, speed up the time it takes to obtain COs, and address property issues in a fair and uniform way.
There’s a lot in the pipeline. This fall we’re beginning to launch an online filing system and are working as fast as we can to add building department forms to enable filing and payment from home. And next year, we believe we’ll be ready to unveil a business packet that clarifies and speeds up the process for opening a business in town.
But none of those improvements addresses your concerns now. We haven’t been sleeping though. We’ve begun the process for addressing dilapidated vacant properties with a more streamlined vacant properties ordinance. We have launched REPORT•it that allows residents to instantly notify the borough of concerns around town, ensuring that our residents are an extension of the borough’s eyes and ears.
We’ve also been developing a series of values that we believe are essential to a properly functioning borough. We studied and listened to resident feedback explaining the greatest frustrations they experience. We’ve tasked our many talented employees in the building department with addressing these concerns and released a brochure that explains our expectations as a borough. The brochure also encourages residents to provide us with feedback if those expectations are ignored. This brochure is now being included with every building department form and inspection given and are working hard to continue progressing forward.
With the permitting process, we believe that residents should experience minimal visits, a concise permit packet, cost clarity, and that a priority is placed on issuance. When it comes to citations, code violations should be written to ensure proper clarity and notice, the documentation should include citations to the code, and it should also provide for a reasonable opportunity to cure. And we expect inspections, to be performed in a timely fashion, are followed up with a single written report detailing any deficiency, that all staff interactions are polite and friendly, and again, that a priority be placed on issuance so that our residents are not waiting months for necessary approvals.
The leadership in the borough is committed to improving these experiences and encourage resident feedback to continue improving. The entire brochure can also be found online at southrivernj.org/buildings/.