Featured Carousel Features February 2019

City of Gainesville Reinvents Permitting, Planning


Written By: Wendy Thomas

From large developments to small business startups to home additions/renovations and everything in between, the City of Gainesville’s Department of Doing is serving unique customers five days (and sometimes more) per week. We’ve redesigned our space and processes to make your project successful.

If it’s been a while since you’ve visited the Thomas Center to obtain a permit, open a new business or check your zoning, we are happy to share that we’ve rolled out new services over the past few years to improve your experience.

Helpful Staff

Our Permit Expeditors are your first contact and direct link between you and the city. Expeditors work with planners, plan reviewers and inspectors to ensure a seamless process.

The entire staff is committed to understanding your needs and being a guide to work together toward an outcome that works for you and your neighbors. By understanding zoning, building codes, permitting and licensing, we are committed to act as problem solvers on your behalf.

Starting a Business?

Starting a business can be complicated; that’s why we’ve designed the Grow-It-Yourself Kit (GIY), an easy-to-use tool to help you get started. Handed out all year, this package of tools is designed to jumpstart any new business owner’s journey.

The useful features include: a personalized card from the planner assisting you, a process overview, a pen and an action journal with a sticker sheet with all of the various steps in the lifecycle of starting a business, and personalized handouts tailored to your needs.

Interested in finding out if a building is right for your business? We have an online tool that will help. The Right Site Zoning Portal and the Business Portal help guide you through complex projects, like starting a new business or a renovation project.

Starting a business can be complicated; that’s why we’ve designed the Grow-It-Yourself Kit (GIY), an easy-to-use tool to help you get started. Handed out all year, this package of tools is designed to jumpstart any new business owner’s journey.

The Right Site Zoning Portal allows you to type in your prospective new business and view all properties that will match your needs. The Business Portal is a tool to help you explore and estimate permits and fees associated with building or renovating a structure. A new service we offer is a free onsite consultation to help you understand any unforeseen costs and time delays that could be associated with existing buildings you may be interested in leasing.

Developing or Renovating a Property?

We understand that the land development code, building codes and utility standards are specialized documents. That’s why we offer a free and convenient service where you can share your ideas and receive feedback from planning, building, public works and GRU staff at one meeting. First Step is a positive, informative and collaborative workshop experience where you can go to have all of the steps in the process outlined by relevant experts. Whether you are looking to add an addition to your home or construct an eight-story building, we are here to help you along the way.

New software allows customers to electronically submit and monitor projects as they go through the city’s review. ePlan Review allows city departments and other agencies to review projects simultaneously, which helps to resolve conflicting reviewer commentary and reduce review time, all the while ensuring an efficient and transparent review process.

The city also offers virtual inspections, which allow a contractor to video conference with an inspector and allow for time-certain inspections. This is especially convenient because it eliminates a homeowner waiting for the inspector to arrive. This service is currently utilized for A/C changeouts, garage doors and water heaters. We plan to expand this program in the future.

Curious about New Development?

Information on proposed development has been hard to find in the past. That’s why we’ve created an interactive website showing the location of all new projects that are under review or were recently approved. We call this the Gainesville Interactive Project Map and we update it weekly.

We’ve also redesigned our outreach materials and introduced an easy-to-understand postcard and on-site informational signs for public hearings.

 Looking Forward

We are continually evaluating our processes and looking to improve the services we provide. Performance metrics track our plan review and inspection times, project data and customer feedback. Your feedback is important to us. The next time you visit the Thomas Center, please be sure to leave a review by using our Happy or Not kiosk. 

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