Leaders Are Made During Crisis
When COVID-19 hit, Danbury Connecticut was three months into using OpenGov Citizen Services. Because critical departments were already using Citizen Services, they were able to proactively develop a safe reopening workflow, connecting: Planning and Zoning, Heath and Human Services, Building and the Fire Marshal.
“We are grateful we had all key departments integrated and working on a single application so we could keep our city on track through COVID and accelerate reopening safely,” says Sean Hearty, Director of Permit Coordination and Zoning Enforcement Officer
With OpenGov, Danbury was able to move quickly and with agility to meet its community’s needs as the state reopened.
1. ‘We reopened 24 restaurants on day-one’
Under a statewide executive order, Connecticut municipalities are expediting changes to zoning rules and other ordinances to expand outdoor dining. The order requires them to review, process, and inspect within 10 days or a permit is automatically approved.
Teams across Danbury’s key departments worked proactively over the span of multiple calls to create guiding documents and workflows to enable reopening. Their intent was to be simple for the applicant, but rigorous on the back end.
“Restaurants needed only to fill out a single form, and they could draw a picture on a cocktail napkin of where the seating would be. On the back end we map it via our GIS/Citizen Services integration, and move the permit through all key departments for approval, considering elements like sanitation and food service (e.g., restroom queue details and prep station layouts), zoning, and fire and safety. We reopened 24 restaurants on day-one, and we did it safely.”
Reopened 24 restaurants on day-one
Single form application for reopening businesses
GIS integration enables “cocktail-napkin sketch” submissions
Permit cadence maintained even with COVID-19
2. ‘We are processing faster even while working remotely’
Currently, Danbury has approved 40 out of the 60 permits in the system, pointing to a level of efficiency that many cities aspire to under normal circumstances. But being fast was only part of Danbury’s ambitious goal for permitting, licensing, and code enforcement, being helpful and keeping people safe are core to their mission.
“Our goal with residential permitting was to make it as simple as possible and to make our input valuable so people weren’t doing work on their own. We don’t just say no and walk away, but rather suggest another, better, safer way to do the work. We aren’t McDonald’s — you can’t always have it your way — but we’re going to make it worth it for you to work with our permitting team to make sure you aren’t building your deck over your septic.”
Sean Hearty, Director of Permit Coordination and Zoning Enforcement Officer, Danbury, CT
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