New technology is helping Mat-Su Borough staff cut down on the time it takes to issue driveway permits.

For right-of-way inspector Scott Beatty, field inspections for driveways are relatively simple; it’s a quick 10-minute process to check that a driveway is properly constructed and not causing safety issues.

"This one has a culvert, the ditch is evident,” Beatty pointed out. “It doesn’t have any water problems, the drainage is going to be fine. You have good sight distance in both directions.”

While each inspection takes the same amount of field work, a new app has cut down on three-quarters of the time he used to spend in the office.

Beatty explained people would file for permits in person, and the application would be issued on paper.

“First off, in the office, we’d sit down with hundreds of these things, sit down with a map, map each location.”

Then, inspectors in the field would record information manually on the paperwork then enter the data into the computer at the end of the day.

Now, Beatty can upload the information instantly.

“It comes down to money. Every hour I’m on the clock, the taxpayers have to pay me for,” he said.

The app also means Beatty can get more driveways inspected every day. That’s helping to cut down on a backlog of about 5,700 permits, some dating back to about 2001.

"That’s shrinking rapidly. When I first came on as a season inspector in 2012, there was a backlog of 16,000 permits,” Beatty said.

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development economists report half of new homes built in Alaska in 2017 were constructed in the Mat-Su Borough.

Beatty said permitting efficiency is crucial as the area continues to grow. Speeding up the process now means smooth sailing for new applications.

“The only thing we’re going ask of you is the same thing you would ask of your neighbor: don’t build a driveway that’s going to damage my property or the borough’s property."

The borough’s goal is to streamline the entire permitting process.

Beginning July 16, homeowners will be able to apply for driveway permits online through the borough’s e-commerce website.

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