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Online planning services to debut in March
Service at no cost to county
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Forsyth County News

An online service for submitting plans and permit applications in Forsyth County likely will debut in March.

The electronic option was pitched as a more efficient way to process plans for businesses or individuals seeking permits, said Nancy Lovingood, manager of development services in the county’s planning department.

During a meeting Tuesday, commissioners approved the creation of an agreement with E Plan Solutions.

The outside company will make money by charging a fee to applicants for the use of the online service. The fee will range from about $25 to $200, depending on the scope of the plans, Lovingood said.

The agreement will not cost the county anything.

Permit applicants will be able to upload plans and receive comments from staff all in one place, she said.

Lovingood said the program came to Forsyth’s attention after glowing reviews from users in neighboring Cherokee County.

“Time is money, so the faster it all goes through [the better],” she said. “They can submit their plans from their offices. Also, they save money on not printing paper copies for all of the plan submissions and reviews.”

She said the online service will also save staff time that is spent moving papers, determining who’s done what and scanning and e-mailing documents as they’re updated.

The company will begin training on the service in February and the full version will be available in March, Lovingood said.

Commissioners approved use of the online submissions after ensuring the service is optional.

The planning department will still be available to take plans and review them by hand for those who don’t want to pay the online service fee, said Tom Brown, planning director, at the commission’s meeting.

The plans won’t be available to the public online, but an open records request can be made to review them, as is currently the case, Brown said.

Lovingood said the additional online service won’t have any impact on eStatus, the county’s Web site that allows the public to review applications and important dates in the process for rezonings, permits and other planning matters.