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Council takes steps to create building department

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At its regular meeting held virtually on Aug. 16, Village Council took additional steps to create a local building department. First, Council approved an ordinance that would create a fee schedule for building permits; second, they approved a resolution that enters into a contract with National Inspection Corporation, or NIC.

The building department was initially approved at Council’s July 6 meeting. The department would serve the Village by speeding up the process of acquiring building permits, according to Village officials. At the July 6 meeting, Council heard testimony from local business owners and architects who struggled with the Greene County Building Department.

In Village Manager Josué Salmerón’s Aug. 16 presentation, he explained that continuing services with Greene County “restricts and discourages economic development.”

Council unanimously approved a first reading of an ordinance that would create a fee schedule for residential and commercial building permits. The fee schedule outlines the cost associated with building projects, a cost that pays for the required inspections of plans and structures.

Salmerón also tried to alleviate concerns that the fees would be higher for a more localized building department.

“It’s excellent news,” Salmerón said. “Our fee schedule will be less expensive than both Greene County and Fairborn.”

Salmerón collaborated with NIC to compare the cost of permitting a 2,500-square-foot residential home and a 20,000-square-foot business. These models show the cost of the residential home permit to be $1,025 through NIC, which is lower than the cost for Greene County, $1,099. The commercial permitting cost showed a difference of nearly $2,000; NIC’s estimate was $5,525 and the cost for Greene County was $7,732.

Salmerón also introduced a resolution to contract with NIC for building inspections and permitting services. NIC, based in Washington Township, currently provides permitting and inspection services to 30 municipalities throughout Ohio and is certified with the Ohio Board of Building Standards.

Outlining the process, Salmerón explained that those seeking permits will submit forms to the Village offices, staff will forward permits to NIC representatives in a secure file, and then NIC representatives will review the files and either make suggestions or issue permits. According to the drafted contract, NIC will have plans reviewed in three to seven business days.

“This is a great improvement to our current timeline,” Salmerón said.

Also present at the meeting was Andrew McKenzie of NIC. In a response to a question from Council member Kevin Stokes, McKenzie said that NIC plans to hire staff ahead of time to be able to keep up with the promised turnaround time.

“The only reason we exist is to provide good customer service,” McKenzie said.
Salmerón added that, in the future, customers will be able to upload their plans directly to iWorQ, the secure platform currently used for Village service requests.

In addition, NIC will provide “orientation and technical assistance to customers on building regulations,” Salmerón said. This means that villagers can call the Village offices and be connected with a NIC representative to receive updates and guidance on their projects and plans.

“There may be seven different ways to meet regulation,” McKenzie said. “Part of our function is to educate the community on how to achieve their goals.”

Building plans often need changes in order to obtain permits from local and state agencies. In a response to a question from Council member Laura Curliss, McKenzie assured Council that “the person who first lays hands on the project is accountable for getting it approved.”

Salmerón also addressed concerns with the cost of contracting with NIC, explaining that 90% of each permit fee would pay the company. The other 10% of the fee would pay for administrative and technology costs, leaving the Village with no additional cost for the building department.

Council members unanimously approved of the first reading, and will further discuss it and other steps towards certifying the building department at Council’s Sept. 7 meeting. To continue moving forward with the creation of a local building department, Village Council will need to apply for certification from the Ohio Board of Building Standards and implement the technology for permit management.

Other items from Council’s Aug. 16 agenda will appear in next week’s News.

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