People seeking building permits in Jackson can now do so online with a new platform Jackson’s Department of Planning and Development developed.
Director Jordan Hillman said at a press briefing Monday that this software modernization is a step further in transforming the department. Earlier reforms included changing ordinances, and simplifying processes and fee calculation.
The new online platform is accessible via www.jacksonms.gov/building-permits. "This allows us to offer a digital transformation to the building permit process,” Hillman said. “Everything you need to do with the permitting process can now be done online from your home, from your workplace, from your cell phone or from your tablet."
While the in-person process is still available, the new automation will speed up service time. It covers building-permit inspections and utility-release requests, credit cards or checking accounts as payment options. Applicants can download the building permit after payment to print themselves.
"Applicants can now in real time monitor the status of their application," the director said. "Once I get my building permit, I can actually request my inspections online and see the inspectors make comments on it. They can take pictures and make comments back to me."
"I can do my whole process online and not have to make constant phone calls asking for updates on whether or not an inspection was passed, or if my permit is ready and how much I owe. You can request the inspections online."
Hillman said the inspectors are using mobile devices now and update information from the field in real-time.
"You could also use the site for (a) public-record search, and this is something that a lot of people find useful. You can actually search our records to see if a property happens to already have a permit on it and pull up the permit number to make it easier for you to ask for public information," she added.
"The OpenGov ViewPoint platform (we use) is cloud-based, allowing new permitting data to be linked with state contractors, boards, licensure data, the assessor's data and our GIS mapping data. So it brings everything together In one place. We did this in order to add convenience and enhance efficiency and transparency to the building permit process and inspection scheduling process."
She said the second phase of the digitalization, coming up in early 2021, will encompass other aspects of the zoning and business licensing applications.
Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba said that the initiative brings Jackson to the 21st century by creating ease for developers.
"We wanted to make certain that we allow businesses, people who want to build and develop our city, to have the convenience and all of the resources that they need accessible to them," he said. "In some ways, we want to make certain that we get out of the way of our success, that we get out of the way of people who want to make things happen."
Lumumba: The Virus Is Still Looming
The Hinds County COVID-19 positivity rate is now at 7.1%, and the infection rate 0.94%, Lumumba disclosed Monday while expressing concern at reports of local hospitals' lack of capacity.
"Wear your mask, be mindful that we are still in the midst of a pandemic," he said. "COVID-19 is still alive and active. So I'm asking people to wash their hands frequently, wear masks and maintain social distance. "
"The COVID cases are rising across the country, and Jackson is no exception; we must continue to be vigilant," he added. "In October, we began to see an 11.42% decline in local cases. … While the numbers are not yet available, now it appears that our numbers are rising. As predicted with the cooler weather and flu season, we are seeing a spike."
The mayor urged the people to get a flu shot as an added layer of protection.
Ward 2 Election
Lumumba also enjoined Ward 2 citizens to participate in the special election to fill their city council seat taking place today.
"I'd like to encourage all of the Ward 2 residents to get out and vote," he said. "I do want people to participate in their civic responsibility."
Candidates standing for election taking place across the 10 precincts in the ward are Angelique Lee, Tyrone Lewis, James Paige, Thomas Warren Powell, Funmilayo Bannerman Tilden, and Melinda Greenfield Todd.
The 10 voting locations are: Precinct 41: Green Elementary School, 610 Forest Ave.; Precinct 43: Fresh Start Christian Church, 510 Manhattan Road; Precinct 80: Tougaloo Community Center, 318 Vine St.; Precinct 81: Aldersgate United Methodist Church, 655 Beasley Road; Precinct 82: Hanging Moss Church of Christ, 5225 Hanging Moss Road; Precinct 83: New Hope Baptist Church, 5202 Watkins Drive, Precinct 84: China Grove Baptist Church, 454 Forest Ave., Ext.; Precinct 85: Fire Station #26, 2223 FLag Chapel Road; Precinct 86: Triumph the Church & Kingdom of God in Christ, 5302 Queen Mary Lane; Precinct 98: Tougaloo College, 500 Countyline Road.
Email story tips to city/county reporter Kayode Crown at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @kayodecrown.