LIMA — Building officials from Miami County’s building department spent the day in Lima laying out what a potential satellite office would look like for Allen County if Allen County Commissioners decide to proceed with the venture.
The Miami County department began researching the project when commissioners first met with the group back in February. After a public tiff between the county, Allen Economic Development Group and the City of Lima, the project stalled until AEDG President/CEO Jeff Sprague contacted Miami County Director Department of Development Richard Osgood this past August.
Roughly 10 months later since initial contact, Miami County explained they are now “ready to act immediately” if Allen County gives the green light.
As Osgood explained, Allen County’s building department would be potentially staffed by two employees, with a potential third employee acting as an administrative assistant depending on need. The two primary building inspectors would hold dual certifications in both building inspection and electrical safety.
Due to the dual certification, Osgood said most smaller projects and inspections could be finished by the regional satellite office to be potentially established in Allen County. Larger project reviews, however, would need to be examined by a plans reviewer located in Troy’s main office.
Osgood said the building department currently uses a cloud-based software that design professionals can use to send in plans online.
Chief Building Official Rob England said with large projects, many companies prefer to submit online plans anyway, and due to the size of major businesses pursuing such projects, they can absorb the costs required to travel to Troy if they would rather prefer a more traditional sit-down meeting.
Miami County’s building department already has two regional offices — the first located in Greenville covering Darke and Mercer counties and the second in Sidney covering Auglaize and Shelby counties.
As for what sets Miami County’s building department apart, Osgood said his office has worked to adopt a private business mentality more aligned with what an architecture or engineering firm might adopt.
“We’ve worked very hard to instill a culture in our staff to be (building) code consultants,” Osgood said. “We’re not code cops. We try to think of ourselves as partners and consultants.”
Commissioners reacted positively to the presentation.
“This lays out what we’ve heard from other commissioners,” Commissioner Jay Begg said. “They spoke highly of the arrangement. I haven’t heard anything today to change that.”
“Maybe this can solve some of the problems that we got. Every time I hear it, I hear something new that I like,” Commissioner Greg Sneary said.
Lima Director of Public Works Howard Elstro expressed some reservations about Osgood’s presentation, especially when it came to the amount of work that two employees can handle. Lima’s Building Department, which currently holds the contract for commercial building inspections with Allen County, has seven on staff.
Elstro also said the final cost to the business community could also be 15 to 20 percent higher, according to his department’s analysis, if the county were to move forward with the project.
Osgood also presented to the Allen County Township Trustee Association Thursday night. Begg said the county has the final decision to go with Miami County, but they wanted to hear input on the decision from trustees.
“I don’t think anyone heard anything negative tonight,” Shawnee Township Trustee Chris Seddelmeyer said. “It was a great informational presentation.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.