As taken from “In ‘wild western Licking County,’ rogue builders meeting permit enforcers bent on upholding laws,” msn.com, as written by Alan Miller. The Angry Bear writer has added his own experiences to the article. There are modifications to the original article.
With the rapid pace of growth in western Licking County, some commercial builders and business owners have taken the law into their own hands by moving ahead with construction projects before they have all of the proper permits and inspections. Or as Linda Nicodemus calls it “the wild western Licking County.”
Those builders are learning Linda Nicodemus and a posse of other county officials are not standing for those who go rogue.
AB: I sat on a Planning Commission for a number of years and was appointed Vice Chairperson. For the most part, the builders I ran into in Livington County Michigan were pretty decent people and abided by the ordinances we had in place. Things were not passed in very short periods of time. Often times, it would take several meetings and typically spread out a month or so apart.
There was only one time I had an issue and surprisingly it was with the Chairperson himself. The evening we were supposed to hear a proposal by a builder he was not there for some reason. Another person was absent, and another person recused himself due to business dealings. As it turned out, the Chairperson was employed by the builder unbeknownst to myself and the Townhall Manager. We had a conflict-of-interest problem going on at the time. Even so, we did not have a quorum in which to conduct business so we sat through a presentation. In the end, the Chairperson was relieved of his responsibilities.
Most builders and developers will not game the process and will get the necessary approvals and permits. In this case, the builder just decided they did not need the permits from the Licking County Planning and Development Department, the county Planning Commission, local planning and zoning boards and local utilities and fire departments. All of which make sure excavation and construction work is done according to local and state regulations designed to protect people and the environment.
Licking County went to court and got a court ruling ordering LeVeck Commercial Construction and Development of Columbus to stop work on the warehouse project. Does this happen all the time? In another instance Licking County ordered warehouse construction site owners Jersey 1820 Ltd. and Jersey Warehouse to stop work.
The county stated the companies failed to obtain required government permits, failed to submit plans and an associated stormwater report for review and approval by the planning commission, failed to establish sediment and erosion control measures, and failed to establish stormwater, sediment and/or water quality basins.
Once out of control, it becomes difficult for a county of city to rein them in and it takes a lot of work to do so with limited staffing. Licking county had its hands full in January. Nearly half of the more than 50 projects county officials were monitoring had obtained all of the proper permits but were out of compliance with permit rules. This is another problem and sites must be inspected from time to time to maintain control. Linda Nicodemus found nearly a dozen others did not have the proper permits and were in violation ordinances.
AB: This is a common issue. I was a recipient of a hand delivered letter from the city due to my being 600 feet near a model home and its parking lot being built. I figured no big deal and walked over to the site just to see where the build would be. I thought I would see two empty lots.
Nope, slab was down, house framed-in and roof framing built. I called the city and asked them what the point of the letter since the house was already half built. I was told it was normal. I told him, it was not normal. And I told the engineer, what are you going to do if I go around to every person and got their agreement to reject it. Furthermore, you have two lots with two different uses. It requires two permits. He was not happy.
Another developer submitted a hand drawn plat of a Parcel within a development which was different from the one filed with the county (which was correct). I pointed this out to the city council and it still passed.
This is not just a problem with Licking County. In Arizona, they are taking shortcuts to get around the system. One suggestion was to eliminate the wait time from the time notification was made of a build to the time it started. In effect, there was no time given for public input. Even if people do not have input or do not show up, that time must be given
There is more to Alan’s article which I will not go into. Surprisingly he named some of the companies too as given to him by Linda Nicodemus. An interesting read.