WAILUKU, Hawai‘i – Beginning this month, the Planning Department will begin to charge fees when they have to repeatedly review building permit applications.
Building permits are typically routed to a variety of departments for them to check compliance with their individual codes and rules. Most building permits are routed to the Planning Department for review for compliance with land use laws. The Department estimates that only ten percent of the building permits it receives are approved on their first review. Twenty percent require a second review, and the rest – 70 percent – require three or more reviews.
A new fee structure approved by the Maui County Council and enacted into law in January allows the Department to charge for these additional reviews. The first review is free; the second will cost $250, the third will cost an additional $500, and any additional reviews will be an additional $1,000 each. In return, the Department must be diligent in providing the applicant with the additional information needed for it to approve a permit in order to minimize the additional reviews needed. If the Department does not catch a needed item on one of its reviews and does not inform the applicant, then no charge will be assessed for the additional review of that item.
“The repeated reviews of building permits is one of the main reasons that we do not get through our permit reviews as quickly as the public would like,” said Deputy Planning Director Michele McLean. “We hope that this fee structure will be a deterrent to incomplete or inadequate plans. It also puts the burden on us to make sure that our first review is complete and thorough, and that we inform applicants clearly of what we need to give our approval. This will benefit all applicants overall, and will improve the Department’s efficiency in processing.”
Based on the number of permits that the Department reviews, and that only ten percent are approved on the first pass, the Department estimates that the new fee structure could generate more than $700,000 annually if it does not have a deterrent effect. “We are not looking for a revenue source; we are hoping that this will improve the quality of the plans that we receive so that we can approve many more permits on our first review, which means that we can get to all of our reviews more quickly,” McLean added. “We have tried other ways to accomplish this, and hopefully this one will work.”
The Department did not begin charging the fees immediately after the bill was passed (Ordinance No. 4794, which took effect on January 9, 2018) because they wanted to have a clear process in place and make sure that the public was informed. “When we tell an applicant that more information is needed, we will be thorough in describing everything that we need, and will also inform them of the fee structure for additional reviews,” said McLean. “That should limit the third and fourth reviews – we should be able to approve most permits on the second review if applicants provide everything that we tell them we need.”
For more information contact Deputy Director McLean at 270-175 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.