Have you ever been denied a permit and had to reapply?

Jake

Well-known member
Oct 30, 2023
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Was there ever a time where you filed for a permit, but for some reason you were denied? What was the reason for your denial? Did you end up re-submitting your claim and it finally went through as intended? I've never had to resubmit a permit, but I'm sure people make mistakes on what they're filing their permits for, or apply for the wrong permits too. We're only human after all, so I'm sure many people make mistakes on filing permits, especially if it's your first time or you don't know the proper steps to take.
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I've never been denied, but I have had trouble obtaining permits in the past. It mostly stemmed from the permitting process itself, more to do with what permit I needed and where do I get it from. My father had issues with a building permit for a small addition to the property. He filed for a permit, but they ended up coming out complaining about the work being unpermitted. He had to find proof we were permitted, even though we were. Their system for some reason, didn't save his permit, and it either got lost in the shuffle or it was never officially filed or something. I don't know.

I hope I never have to deal with a major permitting problem anytime soon. The permitting process is already tedious as it is.
 
I'm sure this varies across agencies but at least where I work (Corps of Engineers Regulatory) permit denials are exceedingly rare. We'll sometimes issue a "denial without prejudice" in cases where we're otherwise prepared to issue a permit but where the project proponent's applications for 401 water quality certification or CZMA consistency determination have been separately denied. I've never heard of the Corps "denying with prejudice" but I believe it has happened in rare cases where the project proponent is unable or unwilling to modify their application to comply with the 404(b)(1) Guidelines or other environmental laws.

For day-to-day permit applicants, the closest thing we have to "denial" would probably be our policy regarding withdrawal of permit applications. If we've requested additional information and the applicant hasn't responded within 30 days, we notify the applicant that their application has been withdrawn. It doesn't mean the application is denied, just that we can't resume processing it until the requested information is provided. Still, in some cases the information we require can be sufficiently cost- and time-intensive to prepare (e.g., a detailed restoration plan or hydrology study) that I could imagine our request/withdrawal being effectively perceived as a denial in the eyes of the applicant.
 
Believe it or not, permit denials can happen for various kinds of reasons and this could range from incomplete application to what we know as the zoning issues. From my personal experience, it is necessary to carefully review permit requirements and also try to address any deficiencies before you reapply.
 
I can't even imagine a city without Plans Submittal Correction notices. Corrections notices, for every division, are extremely common in our jurisdictions. As a permit expediting company, we do everything possible to address potential corrections prior to submittal. When plan corrections are required the resubmittal process can be cumbersome but there is usually a positive outcome and ultimately nearly all plans are approved.
 
I can't even imagine a city without Plans Submittal Correction notices. Corrections notices, for every division, are extremely common in our jurisdictions. As a permit expediting company, we do everything possible to address potential corrections prior to submittal. When plan corrections are required the resubmittal process can be cumbersome but there is usually a positive outcome and ultimately nearly all plans are approved.

Thanks Sara, good point. In the case of building permits, it makes sense that plan reviewers would flag non-compliant details and give applicants an opportunity to make corrections. I know permit application fees aren't cheap, so it'd be ridiculous to deny an application after the initial review and make an applicant resubmit/pay the fee all over again. Are there generally time limits for responding to the correction notices, after which the application gets denied? If you receive a plan correction notice and then resubmit, do you automatically go to the back of the queue? Does having to resubmit cause the permit process to be significantly delayed?
 
Thanks Sara, good point. In the case of building permits, it makes sense that plan reviewers would flag non-compliant details and give applicants an opportunity to make corrections. I know permit application fees aren't cheap, so it'd be ridiculous to deny an application after the initial review and make an applicant resubmit/pay the fee all over again. Are there generally time limits for responding to the correction notices, after which the application gets denied? If you receive a plan correction notice and then resubmit, do you automatically go to the back of the queue? Does having to resubmit cause the permit process to be significantly delayed?
Eric,
I can't speak for all jurisdictions as the answers to your questions may vary. The jurisdictions we deal with are all similar though. They usually allow 180 days after correction notices are issued before the permit expires, and extensions, if done after the expiration can be pricey. When resubmittals are made, they are reviewed based on the date they were submitted, and review times can be affected by the jurisdictional workload, however in some jurisdictions the second and third review times may be shorter than the original. Whenever we can we pay expedite fees in jurisdictions with long review times, and then when we resubmit, we follow the status to make sure they were assigned and are reviewed in a timely manner.
 
Thanks Sara, I appreciate the explanation. Quick question: you said "they usually allow 180 days after correction notices are issued before the permit expires" ...you mean after the application expires (or is withdrawn?), right? My understanding is that plan reviews/correction notices happen as part of the permit application process rather than being some kind of post-permit issuance item, or do I have that wrong? I handle federal environmental permitting in my day-to-day, not building permitting, so am still learning some of these basic ins and outs.

Whenever we can we pay expedite fees in jurisdictions with long review times, and then when we resubmit, we follow the status to make sure they were assigned and are reviewed in a timely manner.

It's great some jurisdictions provide the "expedite fee" option, though ideally they wouldn't have super long review times to begin with. Good for you knowing how best to navigate that and then tracking in their system. As I regulator myself, I can definitely tell you which consultants are "on it" when it comes to submitting information and tracking our status compared to those who are less engaged and only check back when they're getting pressure from their client. You sound like one of the more conscientious expediters out there in terms of knowing the lay of the land of the jurisdictions you deal with - that's the real critical element to all this, I think.
 
Thanks Sara, I appreciate the explanation. Quick question: you said "they usually allow 180 days after correction notices are issued before the permit expires" ...you mean after the application expires (or is withdrawn?), right? My understanding is that plan reviews/correction notices happen as part of the permit application process rather than being some kind of post-permit issuance item, or do I have that wrong? I handle federal environmental permitting in my day-to-day, not building permitting, so am still learning some of these basic ins and outs.



It's great some jurisdictions provide the "expedite fee" option, though ideally they wouldn't have super long review times to begin with. Good for you knowing how best to navigate that and then tracking in their system. As I regulator myself, I can definitely tell you which consultants are "on it" when it comes to submitting information and tracking our status compared to those who are less engaged and only check back when they're getting pressure from their client. You sound like one of the more conscientious expediters out there in terms of knowing the lay of the land of the jurisdictions you deal with - that's the real critical element to all this, I think.
Eric, in answer to your question regarding the 180 day expiration time, the clock starts ticking whenever there is activity on the permit. That activity may be no payment for submittal fees, a correction issued by the reviewer, the permit being approved or issued, or an approved inspection. By the end of that time fees and possible plan updates will be required. Beyond a year, in most jurisdictions, the permits may be permanently cancelled.
We enjoy our work and serving our customers is our goal. It is our job to know what it takes to submit and obtain approvals for permits quickly. If all jurisdictions are different, it is also our job to know those differences and provide prompt, accurate, information to our customers so they can obtain all of the permits they need.
 
Eric, in answer to your question regarding the 180 day expiration time, the clock starts ticking whenever there is activity on the permit. That activity may be no payment for submittal fees, a correction issued by the reviewer, the permit being approved or issued, or an approved inspection. By the end of that time fees and possible plan updates will be required. Beyond a year, in most jurisdictions, the permits may be permanently cancelled.

Got it, so the 180 days isn't specific to correction notices but is more of an all-purpose clock for keeping a permit file open following the latest activity. As the applicant/permittee, it sounds like you basically just need to show you still have a pulse whenever the building department reaches out to you in order to avoid exceeding the 180 days. I mean, if you provided a partial response to a correction notice - e.g., the building department requested fees and plan updates but for whatever reason you were only able to pay the fees within 180 days - that would still reset the clock, right? Or is it possible the building department could tell you your response was inadequate and that the clock will continue to tick?

I appreciate you allowing me to pick your brain on this :). This is all very interesting to hear about and compare to our process at the Corps. As I mentioned above, our applicants have 30 days to respond to additional information requests but that clock only applies to the application process and there aren't substantive consequences (e.g., fees) imposed on applicants who fail to respond within the 30-day timeframe. Our clock is used for internal tracking and making clear when it's the applicant, and not the government, who's at fault for delays. The purpose of our clock isn't to incentivize the applicant to act within a certain timeframe, as appears to be the case for the jurisdictions you deal with.
 
Wow this topic blew up, I love it. Thanks to everyone who has responded. I'm learning so much here.

I'm sure this varies across agencies but at least where I work (Corps of Engineers Regulatory) permit denials are exceedingly rare. We'll sometimes issue a "denial without prejudice" in cases where we're otherwise prepared to issue a permit but where the project proponent's applications for 401 water quality certification or CZMA consistency determination have been separately denied. I've never heard of the Corps "denying with prejudice" but I believe it has happened in rare cases where the project proponent is unable or unwilling to modify their application to comply with the 404(b)(1) Guidelines or other environmental laws.

For day-to-day permit applicants, the closest thing we have to "denial" would probably be our policy regarding withdrawal of permit applications. If we've requested additional information and the applicant hasn't responded within 30 days, we notify the applicant that their application has been withdrawn. It doesn't mean the application is denied, just that we can't resume processing it until the requested information is provided. Still, in some cases the information we require can be sufficiently cost- and time-intensive to prepare (e.g., a detailed restoration plan or hydrology study) that I could imagine our request/withdrawal being effectively perceived as a denial in the eyes of the applicant.
I'm glad to hear it's kind of rare. I get some people might just forget to respond or even change their mind. It's good to know it's there if they want to continue the process.
Thanks Sara, good point. In the case of building permits, it makes sense that plan reviewers would flag non-compliant details and give applicants an opportunity to make corrections. I know permit application fees aren't cheap, so it'd be ridiculous to deny an application after the initial review and make an applicant resubmit/pay the fee all over again. Are there generally time limits for responding to the correction notices, after which the application gets denied? If you receive a plan correction notice and then resubmit, do you automatically go to the back of the queue? Does having to resubmit cause the permit process to be significantly delayed?
Yeah that would suck to have to pay again to have to do the whole process over. As long as we can make corrections without having to re-apply/resubmit, that makes things so much easier.
 
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