At the beginning of March, the Allen County commissioners visited Miami County to investigate if that county could handle building inspections better than the City of Lima did.
The answer appears to be there’s not a good reason to change.
Lima has two vital pieces of information — a survey of contractors and an audit by the Ohio Department of Commerce — showing the city is doing better than average in most areas.
“The latest review of the City of Lima building department shows that they continue to seek quality and conformance with the Board’s rules,” wrote Robert Johnson, the assistant architect administrator for the state. “It is one of the Board’s better examples of a building department that meets thee needs of the jurisdictions to which they serve and to provide building code enforcement in an impartial, courteous, responsive, cooperative and professional matter.”
The city announced the results of that audit by the state this week. It compared results to a Sept. 22, 2015, audit.
The audit found the building department averaged nine days for approvals and denials, well below the state average. Johnson noted most municipalities don’t allow a “walk-in” option to review plans for a “nominal fee,” which brings the approval time down.
The audit also noted Lima offered same-day or one business day responses for inspections being completed, noting “most state building departments average two days plus for inspections being completed.”
This, paired with a city survey of contractors and owners, shows inspections and plan approvals aren’t holding industrial or home construction back in the county. Eighty-one percent of respondents said it was easy to acquire a permit, and the turnaround time and people at the building department earned above-average ratings.
In recent weeks, it appears the tension between Allen Economic Development Group, the county commissioners and the city has cooled. AEDG welcomed Steve Cleaves, the finance director for Lima, into its offices to help work on more difficult projects. AEDG and the commissioners also backed away from plans for a survey of their own.
These are all positive developments. Sure, there’s always room for improvement in any area, whether it’s public or private sector. All sides should keep pushing to make the region as business friendly as possible while still adhering to standards that keep us all safe.
We don’t need rifts and distrust among the various branches of government and economic development. We urge them to check their egos at the door and continue doing what’s best for Allen County and all its residents.
We share their overall concern that the county’s population continues to shrink. Officials must continue to brainstorm on the best way to attract people into the community while also making it a place they want to stay.