Durham Launches New Development Services Center

Author: Pete Sullivan, AICP, Development Coordination Supervisor, Durham Development Services Center The Durham City-County Development Services Center (DSC) opened on April 3, 2017, with a mission of streamlining Durham’s development review process and enhancing customer service. A joint initiative of the Planning, Inspections, and Public Works Department, the DSC is both a new physical space and reorganization of program activities and staff. The DSC is intended to be a “one-stop-shop,” providing 1) application intake for Planning, Inspections, and Public Works, 2) in-person customer service, and 3) quick turn-around for minor planning and building projects. Collectively, Durham’s development review process includes over seventy different permit and/or review types, spanning more than twenty City and County Departments. The rate and complexity of development in Durham has increased over time, giving rise to the concept of a more integrated service delivery model. While all City and County Departments do outstanding work in their program areas, the need to obtain approvals from multiple City and/or County Departments can lead to permitting delays and a frustrating customer experience. To address these compartmentalization issues, the DSC emphasizes customer service and procedural streamlining, better positioning the City and County to improve the predictability, timeliness, and quality of the development review process. Creation of the DSC was led by Patrick O. Young, AICP, who was recently named Director of the Durham City-County Planning Department. Mr. Young joined the department in 2008 as Assistant Director, and has helped advance the creation of affordable housing in Durham. He succeeds Steven L. Medlin, who retired after 30 years of service to the department. The DSC is located in the former lobby...

Planners Discuss the Key To Attracting Millenials

What can communities do to help businesses attract the talent they need to succeed in a global economy? That’s the question that a group of planners sat down to discuss in Asheville, NC last week. The program at the Land of Sky Council of Governments was sparked by a 2014 poll conducted by Harris Interactive for APA of Millennials (ages 21 – 34), Gen Xers (ages 35 – 49), and Active Boomers (50 – 65) in North Carolina to find out their economic perceptions and community preferences. The survey found that nearly 70% of North Carolina millennials believe they are likely to move to another part of the state within the next five years. What would it take for them to either stay, or choose a particular city to live? According to the survey, safe streets, clean air and water, high-speed Internet, and infrastructure that supports a healthy lifestyle were all key factors in the decision. Interestingly, Active Boomers and Gen Xers also valued these community attributes. In Asheville, the issue of the “walkability” was one that came up repeatedly. A major component for many people’s choice on where to live, the ability to walk to restaurants and towns can be a benefit to be advertised, or a challenge that must be overcome. While some work has been done in the mountain region to increase accessibility, a lack of sidewalks continues to be a common complaint. To learn more about the discussion, check out the article on Asheville...