By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“We want to have an open connection and good communication between the department and the community,” Community Development Director Carl Smith told the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce at lunch meeting at the Port Townsend Elks Lodge.
“When you come to us, we want to have an open dialogue with you and about your needs and what we can do to meet them,” Smith said.
As a regulatory agency, the Department of Community Development, or DCD, is charged with managing land use as it conforms to the two regulatory documents, the Comprehensive Plan and the County Code, Smith said.
There are many rules, that govern land use, Smith said.
“Planners don’t sit around dreaming up things. These regulations have been through the public process with the Planning Commission and the county commissioners who have approved their content.”
To make the process more transparent, the DCD has rearranged its reception area at 621 Sheridan St., next to QFC in Port Townsend.
Customers have access to a host of written and online resources to examine in preparation for a permit application, Smith said.
In streamlining that process, Smith said that several permits can be granted on the spot.
Another step is to improve the online web page and increase the available online resources — although automatically granting permits online is not likely because each permit must be examined by a planner, Smith said.
One important online component is a customer feedback form, the contents of which Smith said are carefully examined.
“We have a new mission statement: to preserve and enhance the quality of life in Jefferson County.” Smith said.
“We will do this by promoting a vibrant economy, sound communities and a healthy environment.
“Every day we will try to live this mission statement to provide better service.”
The DCD office is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and is closed on Fridays.
But the staff doesn’t take the day off, Smith said.
“On alternating Fridays, the entire staff works on expedited permits. On the other days, they work on long range permits,” Smith said.
“This allows us to examine these permits without any distraction.”
Associate Planner Michelle McConnell told the Chamber of Commerce audience that low-impact development for stormwater management is an important planning tool.
“Low-impact development is a more progressive way to deal with stormwater management,” she said.
“There are ways you can channel water in a more natural path so it resembles rainfall and give it the time and space to soak into the soil, which differs from how water drains from freeways, patios and roofs.
“You don’t want to treat storm water as a problem instead of a resource,” she said.
“Water is one of the main sources of currency we have in the Pacific Northwest, so we want to make the best use of it that we can.
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.