The Monroe County government permitting offices will be replacing the permit dropoff/pickup and mail-in system with in-person permitting services, starting on Monday, April 12.

The reopening will minimize permitting delays for building and other permits. COVID-19 precautions will be in place at all four permitting offices. Three of the offices have insufficient space and will be open with limits to maintain the Centers for Disease Control’s distancing guidelines, according to Monroe County spokeswoman Kristen Livengood.

All customers must wear facial coverings in all offices. There are no restrictions on the number of permit applications a person can submit.

Meetings with plans examiners, inspectors, planners and biologists will continue via phone, email and Zoom because of space limitations, so Livengood advises to plan appropriately. Pre-COVID-19, staff tried to assist all customers who arrived before 3 p.m., but now all customers who arrive before or at 3 p.m. may not be served, Livengood said.

There may also be a backlog of dropped-off permit applications when the county makes the transition, which staff is working to eliminate. Date and time order may be disrupted until all backlogged dropoff applications are processed, Livengood said.

“We are working very hard to alleviate the backlog, but the construction industry is very busy,” Administrative Director of Permitting Ed Koconis said. “As conditions change, we will continue to make changes to improve services proactively.”

At the Key Largo office, two customer service representatives will be at the front counter with the ability to do intake and issuance. There will be one line for customers. Those waiting can likely be accommodated indoors.

Key Largo is the only office where sufficient space will allow for a separate area outside of the permitting line to submit applications for Planning and Environmental Resources. Submittal of these Planning and Environmental Resources applications will occur at a marked location in the lobby near the customer service representatives. Planning & Environmental Resources applications will then be sent to Marathon for processing.

In Marathon, there will be two customer service representatives at the front counter with the ability to do intake and issuance. Due to space limitations, there will be a sign indicating only two people at one time inside the permit lobby. Waiting will likely occur indoors and outdoors. Planning and Environmental Resources applications will be accepted and processed upstairs in the Planning and Environmental Resources Department, Livengood said.

In Ocean Reef, dropoff will continue as the county is operating out of a temporary facility. When the new building opens, there will be one customer service representative at the front counter, and waiting will occur outside. Planning and Environmental Resources applications will be submitted in the same manner then sent to Marathon for processing.

In Stock Island, one customer service representative will be at the front counter. Waiting will occur outside the office in an indoor hallway. Planning and Environmental Resources applications will be submitted in the same manner then sent to Marathon for processing.

County staff will be seeking Monroe County Commission approval to replace the outdated permitting software system with an online system for permitting, plans review and inspections. The new system will allow staff to review the applications and plans simultaneously throughout the four permitting offices, decreasing the 35-day-minimum plan review process. The earliest the system will go live is tentatively April 2022, according to county officials.