Bret C. Keast, AICP and CEO
It was in the mid-1920s when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized the practice now called modern-day zoning. The decision in the Village of Euclid, Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co., 272 U.S. 365 (1926) was a landmark in the country’s history that (supposedly) resulted in the prevention of land-use conflicts. Initially, after the validation of zoning, city and county planners used to maintain their records on paper. They also used codification companies, which also depended on paper processes to manage all the laws and ordinances of a city or county. Though decades have passed, many planners and codifiers are still operating the same way, spending hours managing hundreds or thousands of pages of ordinances. However, with changing times, this old-fashioned, cumbersome approach to content management is not a sustainable model, where citizens and applicants demand immediate access to accurate, up-to-the-minute, and easy-to-digest information.
In response to the complications involved in the process, enCodePlus is transforming municipal code and zoning management by offering an internet-based document presentation and content management system (CMS). Through its namesake software, the company enables planners to draft, edit, review, archive, and publish zoning and land development regulations, municipal codes, or county codes without delay. The software also enables them to efficiently communicate accurate, up-to-date information, offering a seamless, positive experience for both daily and less-frequent users. “enCodePlus empowers city planners to update and maintain their own ordinances in-house. It is no longer necessary - or even feasible given the available technology – to wait weeks or months to publish changes or to insert paper supplements in a binder when it can all be done in real-time,” says Bret C. Keast, AICP, CEO of enCodePlus.
By providing total control over the municipal planning and coding software, enCodePlus enables planners to draft their ordinances as well as manage and maintain the content with simple, intuitive tools. The software also makes tracking drafts and revisions easy with the dynamic review and collaborative editing tools. “Planners can draft their ordinances and can receive comments and edits from other departments, or a committee, commission, or board. They can also make it available for public comment if they choose to,” states Keast.
Furthermore, unlike other solutions, enCodePlus municipal planning and coding software is the only one in the U.S. that includes a custom-branded website with a user interface design, which is interactive and easy to use, together with a sensitive, password-protected module for maintaining and managing site content. In addition, GIS technology can also be integrated within enCodePlus, making it the most feature-rich software of its kind. The integration helps city and county planners in creating useful tools for geo-referencing land uses and districts, applicable zoning standards, and Multiple Listing Service (MLS) lease-sale properties. “We integrate multiple listing service properties that are for sale and lease and then link the applicable text of a zoning ordinance with the map. It is designed to connect the user with the information they look for as easily and soon as possible,” explains Keast.
Developed by the community planners of Kendig Keast Collaborative (KKC), enCodePlus not just eases the process for city and county planners; it also saves time and money for development applicants and simplifies citizens’ lives. They can access the information anywhere, anytime online. With features like hyperlinks and pop-up definitions, it makes navigation and cross-referencing related content as simple as a mouse click. Besides, the integration of GIS technology makes it easy for citizens to navigate requirements and rules that they often find complicated, outdated, and difficult to understand. Other features like calculators, resource libraries, web-formatted tables, illustrations, and archives further enhance the user experience.
Since its inception in 1995 as a stand-alone Windows PC program, enCodePlus has been developed in the cloud to deal with the needs of municipal planners, code writers, and their client communities. In the future, the company plans to dramatically simplify and streamline the software, making it more user-friendly and more powerful.