an aerial view of a small town from above

Homeowners, developers, and contractors all want the same thing — for the development approval process to be fair and predictable. 

To meet these expectations, your jurisdiction must create visibility not only on the front end, but through the duration of the project. Here are a few tips for making development more successful in your community (and, in turn, improving stakeholder experiences).

1. Engage Your Community


Making sure community members are actively encouraged to be part of your budget planning can help build trust

 and support (and help make sure that budget spend will positively impact the people who live in your local

 community). Involving community members and builders in your plans from the start will give them shared ownership of the project (and can even improve the end result).

Using a third-party provider for public engagement can be advantageous for many communities, as this partnership can help develop and provide detailed illustrations of development scenarios and design guidelines that clearly communicate the intent of your project. Likewise, this experience can help reach your community through the right mix of tactics to help inform community members about the intentions behind the project at hand.

Let's Bring Your Vision to Life

Revitalizing a Small-Sized Building Department

Welcome to Maryville, Georgia, population 12,000, led by City Manager Maggie.

Maggie and the city's building department have been unable to keep up with increasing workloads. Their backlog has only intensified as residents:

  • Use insurance money to replace roofs following a spring hailstorm
  • Continue to move to the community
  • File complaints about the quality of their public spaces

City Manager Maggie:

  • Time as city manager: < 6 months
  • Platform: Revitalize her small community

Let's see what Maggie accomplishes in the next year:


New High School

With certified inspectors at the ready, Maggie made it possible to:

  • Schedule inspections and manage inspectors online
  • Streamline inspections with multi-disciplinary staffing
  • Receive real-time inspection and project updates

Leading to:

  • Less scheduling & administrative logistics
  • A faster timeline to ribbon cutting

City Hall

With third-party plan reviewers on stand by, Maggie made it possible to:

  • Complete plan reviews electronically

Leading to:

  • Same-day inspections, leading to quicker plan review turnaround
  • Breaking ground faster on new projects

Updated Public Park

With additional resources, such as planning and landscape architecture, SAFEbuilt helped:

  • Design a practical, eco-friendly public space to better suit the neighborhood
  • Interpret zone codes for Maggie
  • Preserve the historical look and feel of the city

Leading to:

  • A healthier, happier community
  • A more desirable neighborhood to live in with increased property values

New Housing Development

With a third-party staff member to manage permitting, and SAFEbuilt’s electronic permitting software, Maggie was able to help:

  • The department to keep up with the busy season via a permit technician
  • Residents to submit, manage, and approve permits online
  • The department to reduce their outstanding permits

Leading to:

  • Happier residents
  • Budget protection
  • Speed to revenue
  • Reduced calls and complaints to city hall

Do Maggie's experiences as a city manager sound familiar? Let SAFEbuilt bring your vision to life.

Request a Consultation

2. Lead With a Strong Goal

An effective planning and zoning department is driven by a mission. Stating this mission (and repeating it often) helps keep you and your community running toward the same goal.

3. Collaborate Across Departments

When departments work in silos, it increases the chances of missed steps, delayed timelines, or even repeated work. By creating sightlines between departments, you can make your development process more efficient (and easier for everyone involved). Consider automations that can help improve transparency across teams and keep everyone on track.

4. Create Predictable and Transparent Workflows

A predictable workflow can help set expectations for your planning and zoning department and stakeholders throughout the duration of a project. When expectations are set appropriately (and workflows are accurately executed), you will spend less time fielding phone calls about permits, plan reviews, and inspections, and create time to serve your community proactively.

5. Build and Growth Adaptability

At the end of the day, it’s impossible to predict community demand trends. Being able to scale your department to account for surges in permit requests, plan reviews, and inspections is crucial to upholding the steps listed above.

Streamline Your Development Process

More than 1,800 municipalities in over 30 states have come to SAFEbuilt with their community development challenges. We mold our process to integrate with existing teams seamlessly, or we can suggest best practices to help improve current processes.

Whether you need help with plan reviews, inspections, or guidance on a new project, our planning and zoning department will pull together a team of industry experts who live in your community and know the area. Together, we can keep projects moving and deliver on your promises.

Custom and Collaborative Building Department Services