LIMA—The turmoil surrounding the old Lima Building Department may be a thing of the past.
On Thursday, Allen County commissioners Cory Noonan and Greg Sneary reviewed the first annual report from the joint Lima-Allen County Building Department, formed last spring to alleviate complaints that the department was not friendly to development.
The county now claims regular oversight of the department, which retained its city employees, and has the option to renew or discontinue its agreement with the City of Lima each year.
Commission President Cory Noonan said Thursday the county appears ready to renew the contract, as most of the concerns he heard prior to the formation of the joint Lima-Allen County Building Department appear resolved.
Commercial and residential developers can now apply for permits online. And the department has started offering video inspections, among other changes, to expedite the permitting process.
The average waiting period for a commercial permit in 2019 was 7.8 days, while the average residential plan review took 5.5 business days, according to the report shared Thursday. That’s down from the 8.4-day average reported at the time the agreement was signed in April, itself a record for the department.
“People know how to let us know if they’re having issues. We welcome that,” Noonan said. “But we don’t hear them. That puts you in a position of feeling happy and excited for what’s going on with the department, and appreciative of the concerns that were expressed: How do you correct or make it easier for the private sector? I think we’re in a great place.”
Likewise, Allen Economic Development Group President Dave Stratton said he hasn’t heard any issues from developers since changes were made last year.
“I think that they have addressed some of the staffing issues,” Stratton said. “That has really helped to advance some of the challenges that were there prior. It appears their staff is doing a good job. At the time, there may have been that they were short of staff. Now it appears they’re working together and working with the business community.”
The commissioners on Thursday got their first look at the 2020 contract, which still needs the approval of the commissioners and Lima City Council, along with the building department’s fee schedule.
“Hopefully, economic development growth continues to happen,” Noonan said, “and they continue to be able to work with customers and get those permits done so the businesses and private sector continue to grow and expand.”
Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.