New county system streamlines zoning-application process

Seventeen Chesterfield County departments and two state agencies are now using the new Chesterfield Development Information System, or CDIS, which was developed by the county’s Community Development Division. CDIS, which is the only system of its kind in the region, has automated the county’s zoning process so that customers can file zoning applications electronically, track the status of their cases online, and receive regular emails about their cases. CDIS also provides staff with an online portal to view, review and track zoning cases through the public-hearing process.

“This new, user-friendly application demonstrates our commitment to improving our customers’ experience and has the added benefit of streamlining our processes,” said Bill Dupler, deputy county administrator for community development.

Chesterfield County planners have been introducing customers to CDIS since May. The feedback has been very good, said Sytira Saunders, a planner with the Chesterfield County Planning Department and CDIS project manager. “Our customers like it and find it easy to use.”

At its most basic level, the zoning process begins when a customer makes an application to change, amend or seek exceptions to the existing zoning or permitted uses on a property and ends with a recommendation made by the county’s Planning Commission and a final decision made by the Board of Supervisors. Applicants initiate the public-hearing process by submitting a zoning application and supporting documentation, all of which can now be done online through the CDIS program. Once an application has been submitted, staff is required to review cases, make comments, track the public hearings and fees and send emails to the applicant with updates about the application’s status.

CDIS enables staff from multiple county departments and state agencies to access the case information in one place and perform all of these tasks online.

The CDIS system has also made the zoning process more accurate as well, Saunders said. Prior to an applicant paying any fees, multiple staff members use CDIS to ensure that the customers’ zoning application is complete and free of errors. This significantly reduces the possibility that the case may be delayed or fees amended.

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