by Cheryl K. Chumley, News and Messenger

15 Oct 2008, p. A2

“It’s like night and day, Prince William supervisor Martin Nohe, R-Coles, said Tueday, in reference to constituents’ feedback since the county implemented a program to speed the permitting process for commercial development.

” ‘I got a phone call the other day [from a constituent] just to tell me how much happier he was with the new permitting system,’ Nohe said.  ‘That’s such a dramatic, refreshing change from what I normally get when he calls.’

“Apparently, this constituent was a frequent complainer of the county’s perceived handling of business permits — but all that’s changed, according to Susan Roltsch, with the office of executie management.

“Since May, when the board first directed staff to look into ways of hastening commercial permits, the county has completed several goals, from forming an early assistance policy that brings to light ‘what all the issues are before we get too far into the process,’ Roltsch said, to cutting red tape for business owners who are trying to relocate into a building or space already zoned for their requested use.

“Two separate customer satisfaction surveys rating the weeks between July 1 and Sept. 26 seem to be giving thumbs-up to the new system, too, she said.

“The first, an over-the-counter brief questionnaire, has returned satisfaction results of 95 percent, according to background documenbts presented [to] the board.  And a more in-depth mailed survey found 91 percent of respondents found customer satisfaction — a key component of the new program — was favorable.  That’s up from the period ending June 30, when customer satisfaction with staff service regarding commercial permitting was only rated at 71 percent, the survey results read.

” ‘[It’s] never, never saying, it’s not my job,’ Roltsch said, referring to lessons learned from recent training to improve customer service for permit applicants.

“Other tell-tale signs of seeming success:  The staff report finds that 79 percent of commercial building plans were reviewed within six weeks; 73 percent of all site plans within the proper time frames.

“Still in the works are plans to create a customer bill of rights ‘so our customers know what to expect,’ Roltsch said, and speed the process of other permits related to commercial development, like those regulating signs.”