The Renovated Third Floor at Town Hall

By Michelle Murdock, Freelance Writer

Although the Land Use, Planning and Permitting Department was officially created one year ago, it wasn't until recently that all of the staff were able to work together in one location. With the newly completed renovations to the third floor of town hall, all personnel are now located in the new offices on that floor, resulting in improved communication for the staff and for those they serve.

The creation of the Land Use, Planning and Permitting Department brought together the adminstrative support for the Planning Board, Board of Appeals, Conservation Commission, Board of Health, Community Preservation Committee, Zoning Advisory Committee and Design Review Board, as well as professional staff performing plannning, conservation and building/municipal inspection functions.

According to Director Elaine Lazarus, the new office space has improved morale, organization and efficiency. The department has been challenged by lack of records storage space and by the increase in the number of building permits issued.

"When an applicant is at the counter, everyone in the room can hear the questions and answers, gains knowledge of that process or the particular application, and can use that to efficiently process that request and inform future requests," said Lazarus.

Working together also improves customer service for applicants coming in to request permits. A new self-serve kiosk is now available where contractors and residents can apply for permits on-line. As of February 1, building permit applicants have been able to submit their applications on-line. A link will be added to the town website for applicants and eventually, all building permit applications will be submitted electronically.

"We are continuing to meet our challenges," said Lazarus, "and we're continuing to recognize that customer service is our priority."

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