Investigates: Jacksonville construction boom leaves permit backlog

Due to the increased volume of construction in Jacksonville, commercial plan reviews are taking up to 30 days.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville moving company on Philips Highway is still dealing with the aftermath of a tornado that struck nearly three months ago during Tropical Storm Elsa.

Reads Moving Systems’ warehouse and office was in the direct path of the EF-1 tornado. The strong winds ripped parts of the roof off, turned over several trucks and downed trees that littered the company’s parking lot.

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“Looked like a bomb hit the place,” Joe Moran, the general manager, said.

He was thankful most employees went home early because of the impending storm. But the damage it left behind is still impacting Reads’ daily operations.

The company employs approximately 50 people, many of which work in the office. Now those employees are kept to tight quarters and are using a porta-toilet in the parking lot because the rest of the building is still under repair.

“Well it’s tough — we’re basically working under one room,” Moran told Action News Jax’s Robert Grant. “It’s more hard on the people than anything else.”

Moran has a contractor ready to fix the roof, put up drywall, and re-carpet the building. Work can’t start until the city issues JGW Contractors LLC a permit.

The contractor submitted a permit on Sept. 14th for more than $154,000 in repairs. The permit is sitting in review.

A representative for the City of Jacksonville said submissions are reviewed in the order they are provided. Due to the increased volume of construction in Jacksonville, commercial plan reviews are taking up to 30 days.

In a statement to Action News Jax, the city said, “We understand this project, like many permits submitted to our offices for review prior to the submission of this permit, represents part of Jacksonville’s small business community, an important part of the City’s economic engine. To best serve all the businesses with permits in for review, we review submissions in the order they are provided to our offices.”

Action News Jax looked through the city’s building inspections page.

From October 2016 to September 2017, there were a total 95,640 permits issued. Over the past five years, that total has jumped 22%. From October 2020 to September 2021, a total of 116,826 permits were issued.

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That increase is even more drastic when comparing just the month of September.

In September 2017, there were 6,535 permits issued. In September 2021, there was a total of 10,301. That’s a 57% increase.

“The people here work hard. They’re all great workers. We just want to get back to normal to serve the public,” Moran said.