Plain City officials are considering a change to expedite the approval process for building in the village.
At Monday’s meeting of the Plain City Village Council, resident Jason Shumway raised concerns about the village’s use of the Union County Building Department, which operates within the engineer’s office.
“Commerce in Plain City right now, is in my mind, on the back burner of Union County Building Department right now,” said Shumway, who is working to renovate several businesses in the village.
He said he has needed to “threaten” the Union County Building Department to get them moving on his projects.
“It has been a process that I think should be much more streamlined than where they have it currently,” Shumway said.
Village Administrator Kevin Vaughn said Shumway is not the only one with concerns.
“I can tell you, we have had several complaints into our office about Union County Building Department,” Vaughn said. “We have reached out to Madison County and discussed the issue with them to see if they can support it if we came over there. Obviously they would have to build some sort of network in place so that we don’t have these issues if we make a change.”
Councilmember Colleen Davis said Madison County is “the same way.”
Shumway said he has friends and investors with Madison County projects and that department is moving forward in seven to 10 days. He said a first review in Union County can take “upwards of 60 days.”
“It’s entirely too long,” Shumway said.
He said certain people within the building department are great to work with, “but overall, it’s pretty poor.”
Vaughn said he wanted to speak with officials from the Union County department “before making a change.” He said he spent “a significant amount of time” speaking with Union County building officials.
“We have had a couple of in-person meetings trying to sort through what the issues are and what the challenges are and how we can assist in correcting that,” Vaughn said.
He said “everybody is swinging hammers right now” so building officials are experiencing a backlog.
Shumway said that is making it difficult to get contractors to work on projects. He said the delays are a problem “when it starts to hit the direct pocketbook.”
He explained that delays have cost him $8-$10,000.
“You go to pull the trigger and this contractor is saying, ‘Well wait, that was pricing from 60 days ago or that was pricing from 90 days ago,’” Shumway said.
Councilmember Leslie Perkins asked what part of the process was getting bogged down?
“It’s A to Z,” Shumway said. “It’s not one thing. It’s everything.”
Council President Pro-Tem John Rucker said 60 days for an initial plan review is “absolutely unacceptable for any entity.”
Rucker said other communities do not take that long.
Vaughn explained that village projects are not immune from the time consuming process. He said the county took “a significant amount of time” to review the village plans for a public works building.
Perkins said that in the past Dublin officials have offered to handle building department functions for the village.
“So that could be an option, going to Dublin,” Perkins said.
Shumway said he knows it would be a cost, but suggested, “maybe sooner than later it might be something to where we start looking internally,” Shumway said.
“We continue to work with them. We are hearing those challenges and we are exploring all of those issues,” Vaughn said.
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