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Could dealing with the City of Richmond’s Bureau of Permits & Inspections actually get easier?!?!

Attention all investors – This Could be good news if you’re trying to get inspections and permits through the city of Richmond. Seems they are finally trying to get it together to make the experience less horrendous for it’s customers & citizens!

The head of Richmond’s Bureau of Permits and Inspections — long a source of headaches for residents and builders seeking approval to do renovation and construction projects in the city limits — is no longer employed by Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration.

Building Commissioner Douglas Murrow had overseen the city’s permit center, located in Room 110 on the ground floor of City Hall, since 2011. His final day with the city was last Friday. His base salary was $116,525 annually.

Tom Byrnes, a city spokesman, declined to comment on Murrow’s departure, calling it a “personnel matter.” Asked whether, or how much, Murrow was paid in severance, Byrnes said he could not provide the information late Monday. He also could not say who would be leading the office in the interim.

The permit center has been the source of persistent complaints from residents, contractors and developers applying to do work in the city limits in recent years.

Last fall, Stoney announced changes in customer service for the center. The changes included earlier office hours and validated parking in a city-owned deck, meant to prevent visitors’ long waits in the office resulting in parking tickets.

Wait times in the office averaged an hour or more at points last year. In a letter announcing the changes that was sent to members of the building and development community, Stoney said some progress had been made, with waits averaging closer to 30 minutes.

In the letter, Stoney committed to staffing the office to cut the time it takes to review plans. He also pledged to implement an online system that would allow people to submit plans electronically, as well as make online payments, instead of visiting City Hall to do so. Murrow said at the time his office was aiming to roll out the system in early 2018. That system, called Energov, is still not fully implemented.

Andrew Clark, vice president of government affairs for the Home Builders Association of Virginia, said Stoney’s changes were “a productive first step,” but hadn’t eliminated the frustration people face navigating the city’s permitting process.

“The reality is, there are still many challenges in that department — challenges that make the permits and inspections process in the city extremely unpredictable and many times, very costly,” Clark said. “And that’s having an impact on homeowners, small businesses as well as the development community.”

Before coming to the city under former Mayor Dwight C. Jones, Murrow had worked for two decades in James City County, where he was the director of building safety, according to his LinkedIn account.

Calls placed to Murrow’s city cellphone late Monday were met with a Verizon message saying the number could not be reached.


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