Natick has done its best to process permits this year, but it proved challenging with restrictions on town office access designed to keep the public and employees safe. Not having an online permitting system” has been a struggle during the pandemic,” says James Freas, Natick’s Director of Community & Economic Development.
The Town’s FY21 Capital Improvement Program includes $300K to rectify this service shortcoming, and word this month has come from the state that it will kick in $73K via its Community Compact IT grant program. The grant will supplement and replace part of that capital outlay.
“The funds will be spent for new electronic permitting and licensing software as well as associated hardware such as field tablets for building inspectors and one to two computer kiosks that would be installed at the Community and Economic Development counter,” Freas says.
He’s hopeful the new system will be in place in the first half of 2021.
Acceptance of the funds, designed for one-time capital investments, is on the Select Board’s agenda this week.
In a memo to the Board, Freas writes: “The system will simplify the permitting process for all applicants, help to better organize and manage the interdepartmental review process, reduce paperwork and time spent on a number of administrative tasks, and allow for better data generation and tracking related to the full range of permitting activity.”
Community and Economic Development issues all building permits through Building Commissioner David Gusmini’s office, which will use the new software system. So too will many other departments involved in that process.
The Department of Public Works and Health Department will also have the opportunity to switch to the new system, Freas says.