By Jane Primerano
Often the most complicated part of home improvement is getting the required permits.
Do-It-Yourselfers who work 9-to-5 jobs have difficulty picking up permit applications, getting them approved, paying for them and picking up the permit from a municipal building open the same hours they have to work.
Roxbury Township has a solution to part the problem by means of an online portal called 24/7 ROX.
The portal was created by staff, Township Manager Christopher Raths said, and is supported by a company called Spatial Data.
Now the portal only allows access to permits which can be filled out online. The homeowner or contractor must still pay for the permit at the municipal building, but Raths said eventually the entire process will be online, with the applicant not having to drive to the municipal building at all.
In addition to allowing DIYers to access permits at midnight, 24/7 ROX also provides access to the agendas and minutes of the township council and all its boards and commissions, saving interested members of the public a trip to the municipal building in Ledgewood.
Also included on the portal are property records, useful to homeowners with a question about property boundaries or the location of wells or septic tanks. Real Estate agents who often seek property information can now get it online, saving time for municipal employees.
“Our intent is to give people the content they want,” Raths said. He acknowledged some of the information now online would normally have to be accessed through an Open Public Records Request. OPRA requests can be time consuming for township employees and expensive for the person requesting the document.
“Not everything is available,” Raths said. “We will put more information online as we are able.
He said the next information to go up will be for pet licenses. Roxbury licenses both dogs and cats. He expects the licensing information to go up this fall.
In addition to 24/7 ROX, a smart phone app is also available, Raths explained. The Connected Roxbury NJ mobile app is available for free for IOS and Android, allowing residents to access the township’s information from anywhere. The app provides all the information on the township website, actually mirroring the website, including contact information, links to the Roxbury Newsletter, online payments, notification sign-ups and the calendar of township events. The municipal code book is also available online. Service requests and complaints can also be viewed.
A weekly information pack, including all events in the community, can also be sent to a smartphone, Raths said.
Both 24/7 ROX and Connected Roxbury NJ went live on Sept. 1.
Raths said feedback from the public has been positive so far.
In addition, the staff of Spatial Data are touting Roxbury’s portal to other clients, he said. They were very impressed with the way Roxbury rolled out the product. In addition members of the township staff actually trained the Spatial Data employees on the use of the portal.