Alternative Engineering Review

Pilot Program



Purpose/Outcome:  The program’s goal is to require fewer reviews with equal or better plan quality through use of detailed checklists, while making submitting design professionals more responsible for quality control of their plans.  This effort will also allow County staff to focus more time on preliminary plans and plats, documentation of processes and training private engineers on County processes, and field inspections to verify proper construction.


Length of pilot program:  2 years pilot study, with 6 month reports to the Board on number of plans submitted for the pilot program, number of plans not included in the pilot program, number of plans pulled from the pilot program due to noted problems, and number of mistakes found in the field.  At end of 2 year pilot program, there will be a decision by the Board on whether to continue the program as part of the plan review process.


Eligibility for pilot program: Design professionals holding a current Virginia license. (Architects, Engineers, Landscape Architects, and 3B Surveyors)


Staff’s Obligations with Process:

·         Collect data on number of plans using the process, number of plans not using the process, number of plans pulled from the process for noted problems, and number of problems found in the field after approval for both plans using the process and those not using the process.

·         Prepare and distribute detailed checklists for engineers using the process (as well as those not using the process)

·         Cursory reviews of certified plans to verify work complies with checklists.  Plans found to not comply with checklists may be removed from the pilot program at staff’s discretion.

·         Prepare reports to the Board on the pilot program status at six month intervals.

·         Staff will assure design professional are notified of eligibility to submit under the pilot program with approval of preliminary plans or plats.  Staff will also provide a list of requirements for final approval, checklists for final approval, and submittal forms for final approval as part of the preliminary approval.  



Design Professional’s Obligation with Process


Property Owner’s Obligation with Process


 How will the program work?

A:  Staff will provide certification forms and courtesy checklists at the front desk and through the department’s web page.  Engineers will review their plans against the items on the applicable certification statement and when they are confident they have addressed all of the items, place the certification on the plan.   When a plan is submitted, staff will see if a certification is on the plan.  If so, staff will give the plan a quick check to verify selected items.  If staff doesn’t find significant issues with this check, the plan will be approved.  If staff finds significant issues have not been addressed, the plan will be put in the review queue and receive the normal review in the order received.  In the latter case, the engineer will be notified their plan is receiving the normal review.   With this process, the engineer who properly prepares a certified plan can expect approval in about a week.  Conversely, the plan that follows the normal process will receive the same review as currently done.  A resubmitted plan may also use the certification process, provided the engineering reviewer finds the number and extent of changes is not excessive.   


What plans are eligible for this program?

A:  Certifications are available for engineering plans associated with final site plans (where a preliminary plan has been approved), private road plans (where a preliminary plat has been approved), stormwater management plans, erosion control (grading) plans, and mitigation plans.  


What plans are not eligible for this program?

A:  Preliminary plans and plats will not be eligible for this program.  Public road plans will not be eligible for this program, as VDOT approval of those plans is necessary. Waiver requests will not be eligible for this program.  Special plans, such as an early grading plan in a planned development, will be considered on a case by case basis.  


What happens if the engineer is uncertain of an ordinance or policy requirement?

A:   County staff will still be available to assist designers with any questions they may have prior to certifying a submission.  As many of you already know, the engineering reviewers have a regularly scheduled time on Thursday afternoons, starting at 2:00pm, when designers and developers can discuss applications and reviews.  Staff does ask that the engineer call and set up an appointment in advance of the meeting. 


What happens if errors are found after approval?

A:  Staff will treat errors the same as currently happens when errors are found after approval or we find the project has not been built to the approved plan.  In those cases, staff will review and determine what corrections are needed to comply with County ordinances.  As part of this pilot program, staff will report all errors and resolutions to the County Board.


What happens if you find the process needs to be changed?

A:  As this process is totally administrative, staff can easily modify the program or even abandon the process if it doesn’t work.  If there are major program changes, we will send out a notice similar to this notice. For minor changes, we anticipate keeping an email list of engineers using this program and they will be notified of those changes.  


Return to exec summary