Lexington, MA, is not your average community. It’s home to 30,000 residents, a whopping 50 million dollar budget, and comunitiy members with prestigious degrees from universities like Harvard and MIT. Given these statistics, it’s no surprise that 85% of adults in Lexington have Bachelor’s degrees, 40% hold advanced degrees, and 60% work in technical fields.
This esteemed demographic breeds curious residents who are actively involved in local issues and expect top-notch efficiencies when it comes to doing business with the Town. In partnership with OpenGov, Town staff have been meeting these ivy league expectations.
With modern software for permitting and licensing, the Town decreased building permit approval times by 75%, got a head start on affordable housing initiatives, and streamlined safety permits.
“The software is intuitive enough that you can pick up on it quickly, even though it is a big powerful tool. It is amazing how flexible it is, considering how powerful it is,”
Jessica Malafeew, IT Project Manager, Lexington, MA
75% Decrease in Building Permit Approval Times
Automated Flagging Tool Streamlines Zoning Efforts to Meet Affordable Housing Requirements
12 Departments with Online Permitting and Licensing
Before implementing OpenGov permitting and licensing software, the Town’s paper-based process was plagued with inefficiencies and lacked transparency. For example, when a developer or resident dropped off a permit, City staff had no means of tracking the documents or assigning accountability, leading to lost records and disorganization.
The approval process took time, stalling development projects. The average building permit took at least one month to be approved and sent back to the applicant, as only one department could approve each workflow step at a time.
“When a paper packet goes from desk to desk to desk to desk, you can only resolve that one department’s issues at a time before that packet is put on a new desk,” said Julie Krauker, the Town’s Zoning Administrator and ICC Certified Zoning Inspector.
Digitizing Each Department
By partnering with OpenGov, the Town eliminated tedious manual processes and fostered a cross-departmental and collaborative workflow, ultimately delighting residents with expedited progress on developmental projects and safety initiatives.
OpenGov has enabled 12 departments in the Town to streamline their permitting and licensing processes through digitization. While the Fire and Building departments stand out as the most avid users, with over 30 record types each, other departments, such as the Board of Health, Conservation, and Engineering, have also migrated several application types online.
Expedited Approval Times
Numerous departments are involved in obtaining approval for a commercial or residential building permit, including Building, Zoning, Conservation, and Planning. The Town has streamlined this process in OpenGov, allowing each department and the applicant to receive real-time updates on application progress. In addition, communication is entirely digital, enabling different departments to upload documents and make comments within the platform.
Thanks to this workflow automation tool, the Town has significantly reduced the average approval time for building permits, slashing it from one month to one week.
“Now all the reviews for a permit are completed simultaneously. You are shaving time off of the application cycle. To have it all there, transparently, that’s what staff gets the most excited about,” said Julie Krakauer Moore, Zoning Administrator and ICC Certified Zoning Inspector, Lexington, MA.
Automation Tools Streamline Affordable Housing Initiatives
In Massachusetts, a recent state mandate now requires that communities with public transportation into Boston provide more affordable housing.
To address the issue, the town has implemented a significant zoning change that permits the construction of smaller, clustered homes. In addition, using OpenGov, GIS map layers have been introduced to flag parcels in the relevant zoning district, enabling the town to identify applications that qualify for this type of construction and automatically add them to the queue.
“The ability to flag addresses has proven to be immensely helpful,” said Moore.
The partnership has transformed the town’s workflow, improving efficiency and delighting residents. With streamlined permitting and licensing, the Town got a head start on affordable housing initiatives, is meeting state mandates, and improving business processes.
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