Fairfax County ranked number one for best building permitting process in the United States by the NAIOP Research Foundation, a nonprofit established by the Commercial Real Estate Development Association in 2000. This ranking was decided after comparing the site plan and building permit review process of 100 communities across the U.S. and Canada.
The study's researchers evaluated three critical pillars during their investigation: transparency, accountability and consistency. Fairfax County demonstrated exceptional performance across all three aspects, earning the top position and specifically receiving recognition for its accountability measures.
One of the highlighted features of the county's permit process is its commitment to providing applicants with flexible options. Developers in the county have the choice to opt for modified processing (footing and foundation permits), phased occupancy, an expedited review, Fast Track Plan Review or third-party inspections for their projects. This approach enables the jurisdiction to move approvals forward, even if there are internal capacity constraints. By allowing applicants to decide, the county empowers developers to control the pace of their projects while ensuring timely reviews.
The study also found transparency is a crucial part of the county's operations. The county actively shares vital information with the public by publishing staffing data, the number of building permits and inspections requested, as well as the number of approved and completed requests.
Additionally, the county discloses performance metrics such as the average processing time for site plan and building permit applications and the duration of building inspections. This commitment to transparency underscores the county's dedication to being accountable to various stakeholders, including county residents.