Atlanta’s troubled permitting process, fee structure to get advice from new panel appointed by Mayor Reed today

By David Pendered

The effort by the Council for Quality Growth to reform Atlanta’s building permit process has taken less than a year to achieve a large degree of success.

Howard Shook, Atlanta City Councilman

Atlanta Councilman Howard Shook won approval of a task force that’s to improve the city’s troubled permitting process. The mayor sent his list of nine appointees to the council today.

Last fall, the council urged Atlanta to create a technical advisory committee to work with city officials on the permitting process. The idea was for the committee to recommend the cost for various fees, and provide feedback to city officials on matters including ways to improve permitting for future homes and commercial buildings, as well as remodeling jobs at existing buildings.

The Atlanta City Council created the task force on June 18. Today, Mayor Kasim Reed will notify the council of nine individuals he has appointed to the Office of Buildings Technical Advisory Committee.

According to the legislation that created the committee, its purpose is to assemble a panel of stakeholders and have the experts advise on a garden variety of issues that have defied numerous proposed solutions.

The outcome, its architects hope, will be a system for overseeing construction that is both responsive and responsible. The current system is deemed as neither of the above.

Here’s how Councilman Howard Shook described the group in a brief comment on his website next to the number of the legislation, 12-O-0840:

“I sponsored this unanimously-adopted ordinance creating the Office of Buildings Technical Advisory Committee, a private sector round panel that will provide pro-bono review and comment designed to reduce delays and inefficiencies that can impede the performance of this bureau.”

The responsibilities vested in the panel include:

  • Serve as an advisory board to the mayor on citywide issues related to the Office of Buildings and the enterprise fund that serves as the coffer for permit fees;
  • Recommend service levels, fees and staffing needs of the Office of Buildings;
  • Receive input from users about permitting problems with specific applications;
  • Respond to questions from the commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development, and from the director of Office of Buildings, provided that the responses shall be subject to disclosure requirements;
  • Monitor revenue and expenses in the city’s enterprise fund that contains proceeds of fees charged for various permits;
  • Create bylaws that include a provision requiring meetings to be held no more than one a month and not less than once in three consecutive months.

Seven of the committee’s nine members were to nominated by trade organizations; two members were chosen by the mayor. Here are the members named by the mayor to two-year terms:

  • Joe Wilber, of Gables Residential, nominated by the American Apartment Assoc.’];
  • Dennis McConnell, a home builder, nominated by the Greater Atlanta Homebuilders Assoc.;
  • Katherine Molyson, of Cousins Properties, nominated Council for Quality Growth;
  • Scott Selig, of Selig Enterprises, nominated by the International Council of Shopping Centers, Georgia Chapter;
  • Kevin O’Sullivan, of Cohen, Pollock Merlin and Small, nominated by the Building Owners and Managers Assoc. International;
  • Kevin Curry, of Selig Enterprises, nominated by the Atlanta Commercial Board of Realtors;
  • Angela Priest, of Kimley Horn, nominated by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Georgia;
  • Charles Taylor, a real estate lawyer and developer, appointed by the mayor;
  • Scott Taylor, president of Carter, appointed by the mayor.

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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