Department Newsletter

Spring 2018

In This Issue

Here it is! Online Development Portal launches for Site Development applications

Meet Claire Richardson

Customer Satisfaction Survey Results

Continuing Education Opportunities

Here it is! Online Development Portal launches for Site Development applications

Online applications for site development review have come to the City of Asheville. Now Development Services Department (DSD) customers can file applications for site development review from the comfort of their office, their home or during off hours. Customers can now submit zoning, landscaping, grading and stormwater applications and plans online.

“This has been the most requested item requested in DSD’s quarterly customer surveys,” said DSD Director Ben Woody. “This is just the latest improvement since the inception of the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Development Task Force.”

In 2015, DSD changed its office hours from four to five days a week. DSD also implemented a “Planner of the Day” process to get customers quicker answers to their questions. In 2016, the department launched its Technical Review Map and Development Project Assistant. That year also saw the inception of Open Counter Asheville, an online portal designed to help small business owners understand the specific license, permits and requirements for starting their business in Asheville.

“City staff have been innovating in many ways, but this launch represents a significant move forward in our process,” said Woody.

How it works
The mobile-friendly Development Portal is accessible 24/7 through the DSD’s main webpage and


development portal logo

The portal allows customers to “skip the line” at DSD’s Permit Assistance Center (PAC) to submit site development applications and plans for online for review. In addition, the new Portal serves as a “one stop” hub to digitally schedule pre-application meetings, apply for trade permits, check permit statuses, request inspections, and pay fees. The Development Portal offers customers a faster and easier route for submitting site development review applications and accessing select DSD services, while easing Permit Assistance Center congestion and increasing the department’s permitting capacity.

To assist users with this new tool, DSD staff has integrated a robust live chat feature into the application platform that virtually connects users to DSD staff during business hours, as well as a detailed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) guide. DSD plans to roll out additional capacity for accepting building permit applications later this year, and is eager to receive customers’ feedback to improve future online tool offerings.


Meet Claire Richardson, Business Process Analyst

Name and title: Claire Richardson, Development Services Department Business Process Analyst, joined the staff in December 2017.

How do you help customers at DSD or what is your role?
My job is to coordinate with DSD’s Director Ben Woody, Division Managers, technical solutions team, and staff to identify, design, test and roll-out more effective and customer friendly ways of doing business. Day to day, this entails using data to identify and understand trends and opportunities, working with our internal project teams to review and test workflow solutions, and communicating change to staff and customers.

I frequently borrow skills from my experience as an instructional designer of technical training for federal facility and energy management professionals to ask questions that “pull strings” to better understand how my DSD co-workers do their jobs and what solutions might actually make an impact. My co-workers are highly qualified “subject matter experts” or “SMEs” — it’s my job to understand what kinds of resources and improvements will better support their workflow.

Biggest challenge:
The biggest challenge to date has been the learning curve. DSD is a busy beehive of activity: 58 staffers in four divisions (Planning & Zoning, Permit Application Center, Building Safety and Stormwater/Grading/Flood) coordinate day in and out on projects of all sizes. Asheville is thriving and DSD handles an enormous volume of applications. Understanding how the “hive” works at such a fast clip has been a welcome challenge.

It’s also been a welcome challenge for me to gain enough perspective on the big picture that I can contribute. Thankfully, my colleagues have been eager to lend me their expertise and answer my endless questions.

Most rewarding part of the job:
The most rewarding part of my job so far has been the opportunity to listen to my colleagues and customers and have a hand in making their work day better. Every person in this department works hard and it’s gratifying that I can use my skills — whether crunching the numbers, brainstorming and testing technology solutions or developing communications — to support our team’s important mission and customer service goals.

Help tip for DSD customers:
DSD has heard you and is committed to improving informational resources and delivering new tools. So stayed tuned to the Latest News section of our website and subscribe to our Quarterly Newsletter for updates!

Contact information:

Customer Satisfaction Survey Results

click for survey results

We heard you! In February the Development Services Department launches its online Development Review Portal. Not only has this has been the most requested item requested in DSD’s quarterly customer surveys, it turns out our customers are eager to use it. In our first quarter 2018 survey, 58 percent of our customers have used DSD’s new online tool. We are extremely gratified to see the Development Review Portal adopted so quickly!

Electronic submittal continues to be the No. 1 requested initiative by our customers. DSD will be rolling out more online tools later this year.

Thank you for your input by participating in our survey! Here are the complete survey results.

Continuing Education Opportunities

Did you know that the Development Services Department offers training opportunities for professional development? Classes are held in the first floor conference room (unless noted otherwise) at the City of Asheville Public Works Building, 161 S Charlotte St.
Here is a list of upcoming classes. Find more at this link: 2018 Continuing Education Schedule.

Date Time Class Fee
April 10 1 - 4 p.m. Building Code Class $65
May 8 & 15 1 - 4 p.m. Plumbing Code Class $65
June 12 & 19 1 - 4 p.m. Electrical Code Class $65


For class registration or more information, contact Misty Lipe at 828-259-5658 or email

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City of Asheville Development Services Department
Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
161 S. Charlotte Street

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