Commissioners discuss permit delays
Bradenton Beach city commissioners explored ideas to possibly speed up the permitting process for building projects.
One such option is for the city to contract with a planner for work beyond updates to such documents as the land-development regulations and comprehensive plan.
Currently building official Steve Gilbert handles planning and building duties in the department. Three people work in the city hall office with Gilbert — planning and development tech Judy Pruitt and code enforcement officers Gail Garneau and Wendy Chabot.
The four-member team met April 21 with commissioners to discuss permit fees, the permit process, reasons for delays in permitting and possible solutions for such delays.
“I cannot tell you the number of people who complain about building permits,” said Commissioner Gay Breuler, who requested the meeting.
Gilbert acknowledged that the process can be lengthy and costly.
“Welcome to the joy of living on the beach,” he said, emphasizing that building on a barrier island is different from building in Bradenton, and building in Florida is different from building up north.
Breuler agreed. “People say, ‘Back home I just go in. There’s nothing.’”
Building permits must be obtained in Bradenton Beach for new construction, fire damage, additions and accessory, demolition; signs, fence, sprinkler and alarm installation, plumbing, mechanical and electrical work, dock and seawall work, roofing and aluminum and vinyl siding placement.
One cause for delay is that the one-page permit application is sometimes incomplete when filed. Just minutes before the April 21 meeting, a contractor submitted an application for a building permit for concrete work with at least 22 questions not answered, including the name of the property owner.
Information on applications must also be verified and reviewed, said Pruitt.
“Numerous things have to be checked,” she said, adding that a search for an updated warranty deed can sometimes take time.
Breuler said perhaps a chart could be posted in the department to indicate how long the review process takes for different projects.
Also, she said, perhaps the department limit its public hours to allow for time to research and review applications.
Commissioners also discussed whether contracting with a planner might help free Gilbert to spend more time with building matters.
“I wonder if there is anything we can do about time management … because you wear so many hats,” Breuler said.
Gilbert said Anna Maria contracts with a planner to answer questions about development opportunities and projects.
“Some of that is paid with tax dollars,” Gilbert said. “Some is billed. The city passes that on.”
Commissioners did not vote during the work meeting last week, but agreed to further discuss permitting at a regular meeting.