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County to review permit practices

LAWRENCEVILLE - Officials are hoping a review of the county's permitting practices will lead to economic development and revitalization opportunities.

County commissioners OK'd a $190,480 contract to study the process, which impacts the departments of public utilities, planning and development, fire and transportation.

"We're going to review our procedures to see if we can move up our efficiencies and speed up the process," said Public Utilities Director Frank Stephens.

Planning and Development Department Director Mike Williams said his staff typically responds to requests for permits within 14 days but the applications are often incomplete or the county asks for corrections or changes.

Then the department has to wait until the applicant addresses those concerns before the permit is actually issued.

"The quicker you do good work, the quicker you get the permit," he said.

But the county has been criticized by developers and the lengthy permitting time has been a reason for many of the applications to annex land into cities.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly approved a bill, sponsored by Lawrenceville Rep. John Heard, that would allow applicants to go to a third party reviewer if the county does not issue a permit within 30 days.

Stephens said the county hopes to receive word on some possible quick-fixes to the process within a month and a half and a final report on changes three months later.