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Posted on: April 9, 2020

Chesterfield Launches E-Filing System for Development Plans

Department of Planning 

April 9, 2020

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA — This week, the Chesterfield County Department of Planning unveiled a new online system for the submission and review of development plans to accommodate social distancing guidelines in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A comprehensive guide explaining the online submission process, E-filing of Development Plans to Chesterfield County, is available on the Department of Planning webpage.

The new system is vital to ensuring development can continue throughout Chesterfield while development consultants, developers and county employees remain safe while teleworking.

“When the threat of the COVID-19 outbreak became clear, Chesterfield’s Community Development Division worked rapidly alongside the Virginia Department of Transportation to implement this online system, providing safe means for consultants, developers and county and state staff to get plans approved and keep the construction industry active,” said Greg Allen, Chesterfield County’s planning manager. “Ultimately, it is about saving lots of jobs across a very dynamic industry. During this public health crisis, our ability to review plans online will help save those jobs.”

In addition to helping the county abide by health-safety guidelines, online processing offers several key benefits including improved communication between those who submit development plans and reviewers. For instance, the electronic submission system allows consultants and developers to receive a series of emails detailing what step of the review process their plans are in as well as view comments made on their plans as they are entered by state and county departments.

Furthermore, many meetings between consultants, developers and reviewers that had previously been required to take place in-person may now be held virtually, eliminating the need for travel and allowing for a more efficient use of time.

Other benefits of the system include:

  • Reduced printing costs: Under manual submission, consultants had to print out and submit 13 sets of plans which could total over 1,300 sheets of paper. Often, a resubmittal of previous plans would require even more sheets. Though consultants and developers are still required to send hard-copy plans to the Department of Planning for a detailed review, the online submission system reduces the number required to five sets, or two if the plans are being resubmitted.
  • No limitation of submission days: Previously, the manual submission process required that new plans be submitted by Tuesday each week to allow county teams time to perform an initial review that same week. Now, consultants can submit new plans electronically at any time and on any day, and those plans will be routed for review the morning of the next business day.
  • More frequent Table Reviews: Table Reviews, the last step before many site plans receive approval, no longer require in-person meetings to reconcile outstanding, often minor, issues. Whereas scheduling a Table Review under the manual system could take up to two weeks, they are now completed within five days under the online system.

According to Allen, the Department of Planning hopes the online submission system will remain an option for consultants and developers even after the threat of COVID-19 fades.

“Based upon the benefits we have outlined above, the county will likely maintain the electronic submittal and review system and make continuous improvements to it as we grow in experience.”

Beyond managing the county’s comprehensive planning and development review process, the Department of Planning is also responsible for general planning assistance for the public, analysis of growth and development trends and inspections for zoning code compliance. For more information, visit the department’s webpage.

For more information about Chesterfield County’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, visit www.chesterfield.gov/coronavirus.

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