Electronic permitting system continuing to progress

Art Lawler
Town of Southwick Building Inspector Art Lawler. (Photo by Greg Fitzpatrick/The Westfield News)

SOUTHWICK, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The Town of Southwick is continuing to move forward with their new electronic building permit process. First reported by the Westfield News on March 18, the town signed a contract for the permit with Full Circle Technologies.

According to the town building inspector, Art Lawler, the new permit system is a web-based product that automates the permitting and licensing process.

Lawler detailed why he was first appealed by the modern permitting process. Before Lawler took his position in Southwick in May of 2015, he was the Building Commissioner in Ware.

In Ware, Lawler made it a priority to sponsor electronic permitting and he continued that in Southwick. In April of 2015, just before Lawler was hired in Southwick, he attended a trade show that the City of Chicopee sponsored, where town officials and the public from surrounding towns were invited.

Lawler reviewed all of the various vendors at the trade show that had an electronic permitting process. The building inspector felt that Permit Eyes, which is the name of the program from Full Circle Technologies, would be the best option for people applying for a permit.

“It makes it a much smoother approval process,” said Lawler.

Permit Eyes keeps all existing information and has it auto-filled, that way past applicants already have their information in the system.

Lawler made sure that he saw first-hand the success with the program. A licensed contractor, Lawler did a mock test and tried to apply for a permit with the electronic system.

“I was very happy with the results,” said Lawler.

Since the town of Southwick has signed the contract with Full Circle Technologies, Lawler said that there has been some formal training underway with all the department heads in town. They have the opportunity to submit permits and get a better feel for how the system works.

Permit Eyes has several other features as it has chat abilities for communication purposes, connects to email, and also takes payments online.

Chief Administrative Officer Karl Stinehart has been a part of assisting Lawler with the process and is also pleased to have signed the contract.

“It’s a modern tool that the building inspector has seen in other communities,” said Stinehart. “It’s just part of modernizing the operation.”

More training with department heads is still set to occur and Lawlor mentioned that information still needs to be added into the system with precise instructions for the users.

There is no set date as to when Permit Eyes will be officially effective for applicants, but Lawler expects it to be activated by late Spring or early Summer.