DSD Highlights Common Design-Phase Errors

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Dallas’ Development Services Department (DSD) held a training session discussing the common design-phase errors that applicants make during the engineering portion of the permit approval process that led to unnecessary delays.

The City of Dallas’ Land Development Team (LDT) — a division of Development Services — continued the Department’s Lunch & Learn initiative on Friday with an in-depth discussion on design requirements and common mistakes applicants typically make in designing and planning submittals for water, wastewater, paving, and drainage engineering.

The training session, attended by The Dallas Express, was presented by LDT Engineering Program Administrators Linda Velez (water and wastewater) and Thuc Pham (paving and drainage).

As members of the Engineering Division, Pham and Velez facilitate development in Dallas by reviewing engineering plans, permit drawings, and survey documents to verify compliance with City codes, standards, and policies related to private development. The LDT represents Dallas Water Utilities and the Department of Public Works.

“The objective of today’s class is to partner with the development community and professional consultants to improve the review and approval experience,” Velez said in her presentation.

With an eye toward improving the efficiency of the project review, the session provided guidance on the engineering plan review and permit process and explained how to address the most common errors that lead to repetitive review comments.

Some common mistakes applicants make during the pavement and drainage portion of the plan review process include errors in the infrastructure notes and construction specifications. These errors are often seen with easements, driveways, signage and marking, retaining walls, drainage area maps, drainage easements, and detention.

The water and wastewater portion of the plan review process that requires the most corrections will typically involve a failure to meet the City’s required design specifications.

These can include not meeting specific wastewater manhole requirements or a design plan failing to ensure the water and wastewater main is more than 20 feet deep or the service length is greater than 25 feet in a principal arterial, minor arterial, or state highway.

If an applicant is able to familiarize themselves with the water and wastewater requirements before submitting their application, it will help the engineering team approve the plans more quickly, Velez said.

To help ensure a smooth review process and an efficient plan submittal, the LDT recommends reviewing the City of Dallas codes and standards before starting a project and taking advantage of meeting with the team prior to submittal using its open-door policy.

In the end, the more mistakes an applicant has made during the design portion of their project, the longer it will take for the LDT to address the errors with the necessary comments, according to Pham. He said the process can take even longer depending on the applicant’s speed in making the required corrections and adjustments.

“Not all projects are the same, with some projects taking much longer to approve. That is why it is so important for applicants to get things right the first time around,” Pham said.

According to statistics presented in the learning session, the current average review times for commercial projects is 43 business days for first-round reviews, down from 48 days in the previous month but roughly 186% longer than the Department’s 15-day goal.

Development Services needed 22 business days for subsequent reviews, down from 30 days in the previous month but more than double the Department’s goal of ten business days, according to DSD’s Performance Goals FY2022‐ 2023.

Unlike single-family development, which has a residential permit dashboard that tracks monthly activity, DSD does not provide many ways for professional builders and the development community to track commercial activity in Dallas.

However, as previously reported by The Dallas Express, DSD Director Andrew Espinoza has assured Dallas’ Economic Development Committee that a commercial dashboard is in the pipeline and will be available later this year.

Still, permit review and approval times under Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax are nothing to brag about. Local developers carry a negative sentiment toward the process years after COVID-19 lockdown restrictions pushed Dallas’ permit process online with Project Dox, ultimately creating a permit backlog that is still being addressed.

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  1. DSD Highlights Common Design-Phase Errors – Round Up DFW - […] Dallas ExpressMay 27, 2023Uncategorized […]
  2. Broadnax Permitting Delays Hamper Dallas – Round Up DFW - […] recent learning session attended by The Dallas Express — shows that the typical review times for commercial projects average…

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