Denton Electronic Plan Review and Engineering Facilitation
- Local Governments
- Public Sector
- Electronic Plan Check
- Government Services
- Local Government Engineering
- Municipal Advisory Services
- Denton, Texas
Challenge: Due to pressures of rapid growth north of the Dallas-Fort-Worth Metroplex into Denton and along the I-35 Corridor, the City of Denton was working to address its part in Denton’s long-running reputation of not being “business-friendly” among some builders, developers and businesses with reviewing private development construction plans as they pertain to and interact with the City of Denton’s public infrastructure (i.e., water, wastewater, drainage, streets, parks, etc.).
Throughout its history, the Engineering Review process has been cumbersome for both the development community and City staff. In 2018 the City was facing a high workload, extended staff working hours, and a backlog of 145 active development projects. With the increasing number of development projects submitted for review since 2008, staff resources had become extremely limited and had little time to focus on critical process improvements. The City desired to engage a consultant to:
- Evaluate current and recommend new/best practices and processes relating to engineering review
- Clear the backlog of existing development cases
- Provide offsite review efforts for the City
- Evaluate current review fees and recommend new fees
Solution: Upon notice to proceed, HR Green mobilized a team of development review and municipal management professionals. This team met with city staff, department representatives, and the development community to engage in an operational and organizational assessment, provide recommendations, and establish optimal processes and fee structures that would allow a rapid transition from a reactive to a proactive engineering review and processing model.
Simultaneously, we initially assigned an on-site Development Engineering Facilitator to streamline coordination with developers and oversee our team of experienced plan checkers (both on- and off-site) using a paperless processing and electronic plan review platform. Our staff members have helped roll out a developer escrow account fee structure to make the contract cost-neutral to the City. We also developed executive-level reports that offer department heads and City Council the ability to track performance metrics and development activity trends.
Currently, we assign two full-time Development Engineering Facilitators at City Hall and continue utilizing electronic plan review and off-site plan review staff to accelerate reviews and approvals. In September, 2019 State House Bill 3167 required cities to speed up the site plan/subdivision plat approval process, and to provide more information when a plan or plat isn’t approved. HR Green staff has helped make changes to Denton’s subdivision ordinance, zoning ordinance, and/or unified development code approval processes and incorporated best practices to meet this accelerated legislative approval timeline.
HR Green has provided over 4,000 reviews for over 1,400 applications (different permit types) with an average of 2.5 reviews per permit.
From a utilities perspective, HR Green has reviewed plans associated with water and sewer mains on existing and proposed streets as well as lift stations. Lift stations we have reviewed support the 455 single family Stark Farms Development, proposed for the 109-acre sewer shed. This has involved 1,700 feet of 6” diameter PVC force main and a 450-gpm duplex pump station with submersible pumps. The other major project is the 270 single family Townsend Green Development that has involved 5,440 feet of 6-inch diameter PVC force main and a 282-gpm duplex pump station with submersible pumps.
Benefit: HR Green’s commitment to this contract has resulted in several tangible results including the resolution of nearly 170 backlogged cases that were tracked in Denton’s case log within six months. HR Green has helped with the fast pass process, facilitated pre-application conferences, coordinated plan approvals between various City departments and staff, and verified City’s long-range street improvement plans with developments.
Additionally, there has been improved communication and proactive interactions with the development community which helps the City Manager, City Engineer, and City Council confidently plan for the future.