• Greg Redeker’s 6 Tips for Preparing and Submitting Permit Applications

    Greg Redeker, Real Estate Manager, Stott Outdoor

    Greg Redeker is a Real Estate Manager for Stott Outdoor Advertising.  Greg spent 20 years working for local government, most of that time as an urban planner.  He also served as a zoning administrator and was lead author for a comprehensive sign ordinance update.  Last week he gave 3 tips for working with city permit staff.  Today Greg shares 6 tips for preparing and submitting applications to the local planning department.  He can be reached at gredeker@stottoutdoor.com.

    1. Make it easy for them to say yes. Submit a complete and legible application.  Use the same terminology that’s in that jurisdiction’s zoning code to describe your proposal.  A comprehensive project description which details how the sign will be constructed and operated long-term can be a powerful tool.  Consider preparing visual simulations if you anticipate controversy about views or aesthetics.
    2. Keep it professional. Include your company’s logo and your contact information on key application materials.  Consider creating standard formats for site plans and supporting documents to keep things consistent from application to application – while it may take a bit more time up front, it should make subsequent approvals easier and quicker.  Over time, professional-looking application materials will reinforce your brand and help earn your company the benefit of the doubt.
    3. Provide enough white space. The process of reviewing applications frequently involves writing notes, particularly on the site plan.  Be sure to provide adequate margins and white space on the materials you submit to help speed things along.  You don’t want reviewers to start associating your name and company with feelings of frustration because there wasn’t enough space for them to easily write their comments or stamp the plans.
    4. Annotated aerials and photographs can go a long way. These can help explain visually what you propose with your project, and perhaps more importantly, what you are not proposing with your project, e.g. “these trees to remain”.  Include a scale and north arrow on annotated aerials to make them more useful to reviewers.
    5. Submit the application in person if possible. Use this opportunity to walk the planner on counter duty through your application materials, answer any questions they have, and seek any needed clarification on their process.  Pay attention to what they say and how they act, as it may be a preview of issues and attitudes on the horizon.  Sometimes you can strike an agreement with the planner to take in an application which they determine at the counter to be incomplete if you promise to get them the missing information as soon as you return to the office.  Acting professionally and having a good brand can be a great asset in these situations.
    6. Submit the application at an appropriate time. If there’s a standing weekly staff meeting where new applications are discussed and assigned, try to submit your application the day before.  Avoid submitting applications either right before or during a big Council / Board / Commission meeting when everyone’s attention is focused elsewhere.  And try not to submit applications just before lunch, or at the end of the day – you don’t want the counter staff constantly looking at the time and wishing they were walking out the door while taking in your application.

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