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Rogers readies software for planners, developers

by Mike Jones | October 8, 2018 at 3:32 a.m.
Rogers City Hall, April 11, 2016

ROGERS -- Kelsey Kreher recently got a sneak peek at a process to streamline how developers submit plans to the city.

Kreher, a project manager with HFA in Bentonville, is a test user of CityView. City planners have used the electronic processing software since 2015 and will open it to developers through a new portal next week. HFA is an architecture, design and engineering firm.

About the meeting

Anyone interested can attend the Oct. 15 meeting about the city’s portal to submit planning documents. Attendees also can register during the workshop for immediate portal access. For more information, call (479) 621-1186.

Source: City of Rogers

Electronic processing means fewer applications, project plan sets and other development documents being submitted via paper to the Community Development Department's Planning Division. That could save time and money for the city and developers.

The city spent roughly $400,000 to initially set up the system, according to finance records.

Kreher likes what she has seen in the month she has used CityView.

"From our office to downtown Rogers, it's a 20- to 25-minute drive," she said. "This will stop clients from having to drop off paper plans."

Training on the CityView portal will be from 10 a.m. to noon Oct. 15 at the City Hall Community Room at 301 W. Chestnut St. The portal also will go live that day. Anyone can register. Planners also will post a tutorial video online and will answer registrations online and in person after Oct. 15.

The city also plans to set up a computer station equipped with CityView in the Community Development Department next year so people can fill out online forms and ask questions, said Jennifer Moore, Community Development Department project manager.

"We want to make the process as seamless and as smooth as possible," Moore said.

Submitting online will take out at least one step in what can be a long process, Moore said. Paper plans now have to be re-entered by staff into CityView.

"We want to work smart, be efficient, be user friendly and be transparent," Moore said.

Developers will be able to submit plans at their own pace, she said.

"They can check on the status of a project," Moore said. "That's huge. You can check all hours of the day, not just 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It's more convenient for the customer, and it makes us more efficient."

Projects being worked by other developers across the city can also be viewed.

Ryan Evitts, an assistant project manager with CEI Engineering in Bentonville, said using the portal will cut down on overhead and reproduction costs. CEI was another tester for the portal.

"We're excited to be able to submit online," Evitts said. "The Rogers process is very user-friendly."

Erica Bray, owner of Quality Assurance Roofing of Bentonville, said she would have used the portal had it been available sooner. Bray went before the Rogers Planning Commission on Tuesday for a conditional use permit to put in an office at 111 S. Dixieland Road. The permit was granted.

"I think it will save people time," said Bray, who had to take paperwork in person to planners twice.

Developers still will need to appear before the Planning Commission to get approvals, waivers, answer questions or calm concerns. The nine-member commission won't have access to the portal, Moore said.

Bentonville started to use an online submission system for development documents about a month ago, said Shelli Kerr, interim director of the Community Development Department. Planners use the system eTrakiT. The city will require all plans be submitted online starting in January. The city now receives about 50 percent of submitted plans submitted through the online system.

Rogers doesn't plan to do away with submitting paper documents.

"We get some site plans on a napkin," said Lori Ericson, planning administrator. "They don't want to go online. We are still going to work with them like we always have."

Benefits of an online system include going paperless and giving applicants more time to submit a proposal, Kerr said. All city officials involved in the planning process can view plans with eTrakiT and make suggested changes or add questions or comments.

CityView has many of the same functions as eTrakiT. Kreher uses CityView to view and track multiple projects in the Rogers planning pipeline. Revisions that used to be done in a flurry of email will now be addressed with a few computer clicks.

Kreher also likes being able to pay fees online.

"No more cutting a check and bringing it in," she said.

NW News on 10/08/2018

Print Headline: Portal could streamline Rogers planning process


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