When he took over as Jackson County’s building commissioner at the beginning of this year, Conner Barnette had a goal of making information more accessible to the public.
That recently was accomplished with the launch of the Jackson County Planning and Zoning Department website, jacksoncounty planning.online.
Barnette bought a domain, used some tips he found online and sought a little help from another county employee to get the site up and running in a couple of days.
“Just being more efficient is the main thing and being consistent with what we do and just making stuff a lot more accessible to people,” Barnette said. “Pretty much anything we can do in this office, you can do online now.”
Each county department has a page on the county website, jacksoncounty.in.gov. But with planning and zoning, the only information on its page was location, contact information, the subdivision control ordinance, the comprehensive plan and some frequently asked questions.
Barnette wanted more than that.
Along with the information that was on the previous site, forms for building permits, special exceptions, variances, property maintenance complaints, petitions for vacate and petitions for vacate commitment now are available to download online.
“You can just fill those out and email them to me,” Barnette said. “That way, I kind of have a heads up, and then you can come in and pay, and I can issue you your permit pretty much that day. This just makes it where people can come in with what they need, and we can get them in and out of the door a lot quicker.”
The fee schedule and building permit application requirements also are available on the site.
Copies of building permits that recently have been issued can be viewed on the site, too.
“People didn’t really have any idea what the setbacks were, what the requirements were for a building permit, what you needed to bring in,” Barnette said.
“We require a driveway permit from the highway department and a septic permit from the health department. A lot of times, people didn’t know that,” he said. “But if they get on here, they’ll see that’s a requirement to go there before they come in.”
By clicking on the Jackson County map on the homepage, a person can be taken to the county zoning map.
By either waiting a few seconds for the slide to change or by clicking on one of the dots below that map, you can connect to the GIS mapping system and the FEMA flood map. All county departments use the GIS to input a variety of information available to the public.
There also is a tab for the county zoning map with information on the zoning districts.
“We get a lot of calls in that say, ‘I need to know what my property is zoned’ or ‘I need to know whether or not my property is in the floodplain,’” Barnette said. “Now, they can go on this site, type their address in and they just do it themselves.”
Meeting minutes and agendas for plan commission and board of zoning appeals meetings are online now, too. Contact information for members of those boards and Barnette are under another tab.
Barnette said the county is working on a new zoning ordinance. Once that is done, the information will be added to the site.
Barnette said he is glad to have accomplished one of his goals.
“I think it will kind of weed out some of the calls that we get just because if people can understand that this is available now, they’ll be able to go on here and get a lot of information that we take calls on,” he said. “We’re here for public information and to get the knowledge out to the public. As much stuff as I can cram in here, I’m going to.”
For information about the Jackson County Planning and Zoning Department, visit its new website, jacksoncountyplanning.online.