You might wonder when or why you need a particular permit. Depending on where you live or where your business is located, you might need a permit for things such as removing trees, installing a sign, remodeling your home, constructing a new building, or altering your property lines on a survey.

The purpose of permits is to protect the life, safety, general welfare and quality of life for the community.

Plans such as the Comprehensive Plan, May River Watershed Action Plan and Old Town Master Plan provide the basis for the adoption of policies used to establish regulations that maintain the Bluffton character and quality of life.

The Town’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) is the regulating document that puts in place the specific rules for land development, and the International Code Council (ICC) regulates construction standards.

The application and permit process is the means to ensure that all regulations are being adhered to.

The first step of any development project in the Town of Bluffton is always a phone call or meeting with Town staff to go over your project and plans.

Depending on the scope of the project, you might be able to proceed with no formal applications or permits, while other, more complex projects might require a series of reviews or steps that staff will walk you through.

In addition to a phone call or meeting, the Town has created an Applications Manual. This is an all-encompassing document for planning and building permits; it’s an interactive applications manual that outlines each specific application and a step-by-step checklist of required items. This document is available online through the Town’s website, www.townofbluffton.sc.gov/pdfs/applicationsmanual.pdf.

The online version is the easiest way to maneuver through the document because you will notice that when you scroll through, your cursor will change to a hand – this means you can click and automatically be sent to the particular section of interest.

In addition to Town regulations, there are other outside agencies and utility companies that might have rules and regulations that apply to your development. Town staff will facilitate the approval process, providing you with contact agencies and direction as to any additional rules and regulations.

The relationship between Town staff and you as the applicant doesn’t end when you have a permit or approval in hand. It continues throughout the construction, inspection and opening or move-in day.

We know that plans might change for various reasons, and staff will help you make sure those changes are also approvable. It’s our goal to get you through the entire process as simply and efficiently as possible.

Town staff is always ready and willing to discuss projects and answer questions at any stage of the process for any project or even idea that might turn into a project. It is a benefit to all, to create an open dialogue to discuss projects and discuss alternatives or options. It facilitates a more efficient review time, construction process and ultimate move-in date.

For more information, contact Heather Colin, director of growth management, at 843-706-4592 or hcolin@townofbluffton.com.

Lisa Sulka is the mayor of the Town of Bluffton.