The main reason for lengthy delays, unless the federal government is involved in the construction permit review process, is the failure of local jurisdictions to appoint a person or agency responsible for final permit approval on a guaranteed schedule.
In many county governments, we always find many departments that need to have input in the review. We seldom find anyone responsible for the entire process. Most county and some city governments, namely the elected officials are being very shortsighted by not recognizing the need for a centralized permitting process with an appointed official who can be held accountable for failure to deliver the services paid for by the permit fees.
What happens if an engineering department or utilities department fails to meet a deadline, if there is one, in the review process? Usually, nothing. A majority of government jurisdictions cannot even tell their developers or permit applicants whether the process will take 90 days, 180 days or more. This is very poor planning, indeed.
County and City management must take the responsibility to correct this situation. Pressure your elected officials on a local basis to implement a process where an individual is accessible and accountable to you, the public.
The City of Tacoma, Washington has a good model for those local governments who would like to see how a proactive jurisdiction can meet the needs of their constituents. This city guarantees a decision within 8 weeks or the money is returned to the applicant.
If you are a jurisdiction with a successful process please let us know so we can share it with the rest of the worldwide regulatory industry.