When it comes to handling permits for commercial projects, Amy Wilby emphasizes the importance of relationship building, organization, and communication. Wilby has been the permit coordinator at Gaskins + LeCraw since November (around nine months at the time this article was published). In this interview, she provides valuable insight, information, and advice regarding her profession.
WHAT TYPE OF PERMITS DO YOU HANDLE?
So far, I’ve only handled commercial applications for Gaskins + LeCraw, but I will eventually handle permits for the residential sector as well.
WHAT EXACTLY DOES A JOB IN PERMITTING ENTAIL?
Permitting for commercial projects involves researching the municipalities, locating the correct applications, preparing them for review, and submitting them with the appropriate documents. I complete this process for all the applications for city, county or state, water/sewer, stormwater and for the Department of Transportation. These applications must be processed and submitted for the client to break ground on a project. The overall goal of the process is to ensure that the project does not have a negative impact on the community or the environment.
Many of the municipalities use portals or websites to submit their applications, but there are still a good number of municipalities that prefer email or physical mail submittals. I mostly encounter Land Disturbance permits, but I also handle any other permit a municipality might need for each project. All submittals are different. You must be very organized to keep up with all the projects and their locations. There is a lot of flip flopping back and forth all day between jobs.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO DO THIS TYPE OF WORK?
I worked in real estate law for many years as a paralegal processing evictions, foreclosures, and closings for mortgage companies. My current job involves the beginning of the process that I have always worked the end of. I realized my skill set could be used on the other end, and I was looking forward to learning something new.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
I have not found a part of the job that I do not like. I am still fairly new, but so far so good! The thing I look forward to most is getting the permits processed. It’s nice to be able to utilize my skill set and see the results of my hard work.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES OR OBSTACLES THAT YOU FACE? COULD YOU GIVE AN EXAMPLE OF A TIME THAT YOU OVERCAME ONE OF THOSE CHALLENGES?
Building relationships with the municipalities and DOT’s is imperative to keeping a good rapport to keep the process moving. They are just as busy as we are, so making sure they remember you and want to get your work done is the number one priority. I try to make a new best friend on every call. I ask how their vacation was, how the new puppy is doing, or how the grandchildren are. I want to leave them smiling or laughing by the time they hang up. It does not always work but I will keep at them until I win them over. Regardless of whether we can make something work, I don’t mind the conversation because I’m genuinely interested in their happiness and well-being.
WHAT SKILLS DOES SOMEONE NEED TO DO THIS JOB?
They need to be very organized, be able to multi-task, and must have amazing communication skills on the phone!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN DOING WHAT YOU DO?
Do it! I celebrate every single permit that I get issued. I print two copies - one for my book and one for my fridge at home. It’s important to enjoy the work you do and to work with people who accept you and appreciate your contributions, and I’ve found that opportunity at Gaskins + LeCraw.