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Permitting Services to Go Online in Greensburg, Pa.

Greensburg, Pa., residents and developers will no longer have to step foot into City Hall for permitting services in the coming months. The city may move other services online depending on the success of this initiative.

(TNS) — Greensburg's planning and development office soon will be more easily accessible as several processes traditionally completed at city hall move online.

Members of city council this week unanimously approved an agreement with OpenGov, a California-based company that creates software and services for government agencies.

In Greensburg, residents and developers will be able to use the platform to submit permits, track the status of an application and submit complaints to the code enforcement office.

The goal, said Councilman Gregory Mertz, is to create a transparent process that makes communications with the planning and development department easier.

"A lot of our traffic at city hall are people who have to rely on communications with the planning and development office, so we just want to give them another way to communicate without feeling that they need to come down and talk with someone in person, which they're certainly still welcome to do," Mertz said. "But we don't want them to feel like that's their only option."

As things currently stand, those wanting to submit a document to the department must print out a copy from the city's website and submit it at city hall.

With OpenGov, most of the department's documents will be placed online, making forms available for residents to submit through the platform.

In addition, applicants will receive notifications through various stages of the review process.

"We're excited to make investing in your property easier," said Jeff Raykes, city planning director.

"We're excited to make it easier for people to interact with local government. That's what it boils down to. We want to make ourselves available and we want to serve people. That's the bottom line, and this makes it easier to do that."

Implementation of the platform comes as city officials for years have been working to reduce red tape created by regulations governing construction and development in Greensburg.

Officials in 2020 hired a planning consultant who wrote a 25-page report on the city's code and regulations.

The report listed 11 suggested changes to make processes easier and to reduce redundancies and contradictions.

After receiving the report, the city implemented an online map that provides at-a-glance zoning information, among other changes.

According to Mayor Robert Bell, OpenGov costs $28,490 for an initial setup plus an annual fee of $21,950 for a three-year term.

City officials hope to have the program up and running by the spring.

Mertz added that the platform could be expanded to other city departments in the future, although plans are not definite.

"We just wanted to provide more options to do it and so hopefully the finances are not a barrier and we can expand this into other offices, too," Mertz said.

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