City takes lead in online plan approval

The city of Atlanta is one of the first cities in the Southeast to implement a complete online solution for construction and land-use-plan approval in what could become a national technology standard for building and planning departments.

To support economic development, “we must provide the most advanced services possible to citizens and businesses who want to live and work here,” said James Shelby, the latest commissioner of the city’s Department of Planning and Community Development. “By expediting the plan submission and review process and eliminating paper, ePlans helps make doing business with Atlanta easier, faster and greener.”

The ePlans system’s benefits to customers and the environment include reducing travel to and from City Hall and eliminating paper use and storage.

The city of Atlanta conducted approximately 6,000 plan reviews in 2007.

The city’s ePlans submission system became operational in June, and further integration with the existing permit application and tracking software is ongoing. Starting Nov. 10, all commercial alterations went electronic.

The ePlans rollout will gradually include additional permits and reviews to have all residential and commercial plans submitted and reviewed electronically by the end of 2009.

Training classes are offered to make the change easy and efficient for people. For more information, contact the Bureau of Buildings at 404-330-6150.

Buckhead fire stations given technology grants

The Buckhead Coalition has made funds available to purchase a scanner/printer for each of the four fire stations in Buckhead in response to a request from the Atlanta Fire Foundation.

The grants were made for stations No. 3 at 721 Phipps Blvd., No. 21 at 3201 Roswell Road, No. 26 at 2970 Howell Mill Road and No. 27 at 4260 Northside Drive.

“This will allow the personnel at each of these locations to transmit sketches and other graphics directly to each other and to headquarters without the present necessity of hand delivery of such material,” said Chief Bill Rhodes, the executive director of the Fire Foundation. “This is an efficiency move which also saves the taxpayer the normal manpower costs.”

In the past, the coalition provided the Buckhead fire stations with thermal imaging helmets and cameras, CPR training kits, and other needs.

Council overrides veto of court money

The Atlanta City Council voted Nov. 17 to override Mayor Shirley Franklin’s veto of a measure adding $55,000 to the salary account for court operations. The council passed the legislation Nov. 3.

With her veto, Franklin wrote to council that the legislation was “ill-advised” because it was intended to add a position to the city payroll.

Council members felt the position was wrongly removed from the budget this year when Franklin laid off nearly 400 workers to balance the budget.

County urged to cut property values

The Atlanta City Council passed a resolution Nov. 17 urging Fulton County to lower property values, as appropriate, in areas hit hard by home foreclosures.

The resolution was a reaction to a study done by the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP), which found thousands of properties in Atlanta that were sold or are for sale at prices far less than the county values them for tax purposes.

ANDP warned that many Atlanta residents could end up paying more than they should in taxes next year if Fulton assessors don’t lower values to reflect the falling real estate market.

Atlanta’s use of plastic wins $300,000 for trees

American Express is donating $300,000 to Trees Atlanta through its Root for Our City Challenge because of the amount of credit card use recorded at participating stores in the city between Sept. 22 and Oct. 31.

Atlanta beat out Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, Washington, New York and Boston in that order, through “voting” based on credit card purchases.

Trees Atlanta, a nonprofit organization dedicated to planting and conserving trees, will use the money to buy and maintain 300 trees.

Zoo Atlanta CEO to address BBA

Dennis Kelly, the president and CEO of Zoo Atlanta since 2003, will be the keynote speaker at the weekly breakfast meeting of the Buckhead Business Association (BBAS) on Thursday, Dec. 4.

“Zoo Atlanta, built in 1889, is Atlanta’s oldest cultural institution, and under the guidance of Dennis Kelly it is recognized as one of the most important zoos in the United States,” said Peter Rooney, the president of the BBA.

Before the zoo, Kelly was president and CEO of Green Mountain Energy in Austin, Texas. He grew up in Atlanta.

The 7:30 a.m. breakfast meeting is at Anthony’s Restaurant, 3109 Piedmont Road.