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Building permits hit the Internet

The county makes the status of all building permits available online in real time. Builders love the addition.

By JORGE SANCHEZ

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 17, 2001


LECANTO -- Citrus County home builders and citizens now have instant access to the county's building permit information just by clicking the mouse on their computers.

As part of the county government's Internet home page, ttp://bocc.citrus.fl.us, the building department provides real-time information on the status of a building permit once the application process begins.

By accessing the Web site, users can type in information such as the contractor's name, permit number, subdivision or street address and obtain a list of permit activities. For example, typing in a subdivision name such as Citrus Hills will yield all the permits that are on file.

After a search directory is posted, users can click on the permit number to get detailed information, such as what type of work is being permitted, who owns the property and who is handling the job. Many contractors have links, and a user can click on their name to reach the contractor's own site.

"Homeowners' associations call the building department all the time requesting this kind of information," said Darryl Clouse, director of systems management for the county. "Now we won't have to tie up people on the phone. All the information is on the Web page."

While residents can check on building permits and get certain information on contractors, there is another use of the Web page, as well: Home builders, electricians and other contractors can be notified immediately of the results of a building inspection.

After a building inspector completes a site review, the results are entered into the county's computer by the inspector using a laptop computer while still at the job site.

As soon as the information is sent, the contractor involved is notified through their pagers that the review is complete. The builder then logs on and checks the results.

The process was explained to builders for the first time Friday, and the initial reaction was favorable.

"I'd give it two thumbs up," said Jerry Gaudette, owner of Gaudette Electric, one of the county's oldest and largest electrical contractors.

"It gives us real-time notification of the reviews, and once we're alerted that it's been passed, we can move on to the next phase. We don't have to drive back to the job site. It impressed the heck out of me," he said.

Home builders said this type of access can be a tremendous help.

"I was impressed that the county government is trying to cooperate and expedite the process," said John Osborne of Pinecrest Building Corp. in Lecanto. He said the process will enable him to line up a work crew for the next day or order supplies more quickly after being notified the review wasapproved.

"I plan to use it," he said.

The county building department in Lecanto will give orientation classes to home builders and other contractors for the next two or three Fridays beginning at 10 a.m. at the Lecanto Government Building, 3600 W Sovereign Path.

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