(WKBN) – On Tuesday, Salem and Columbiana came together for an unusual joint council meeting.
They revealed plans to create a building inspection department for both cities. The plans could expedite construction and bring new business to the county.
“For the whole 12 years I’ve been in city government, the most common thing I hear from businesses is, ‘When are we going to get a building department?'” said Salem Mayor Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey.
For the cities of Salem and Columbiana, that wish is on track to come true this summer. On Tuesday, both city councils voted to move forward with plans to create the joint building department.
Potential builders and business owners in the county say it’s taking up to six months to get permits and inspections from the state.
“It’s too big a barrier to people who need to get up and going and making money. That sometimes deters people from coming to our area as a new business,” Baronzzi Dickey said.
The cost of starting separate building departments and hiring staff was a big deterrent for the cities. But, the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center is taking on those operations and will provide those services under “elevate building solutions,” getting out commercial permits much faster.
“Anything we can do to make the process easy for our builders and our communities to be able to come here, be able to get their businesses started. That’s what we want to accomplish,” said Columbiana Mayor Rick Noel.
Services for both cities would be housed at the Development Center in Salem.
If it happens, everyone looking to build within city limits would be required to go through that program, not the state.
Each city would spend $25,000 a year for three years in getting the program up and running. But long-term…
“Waiting four to five months to receive what you need to move forward with the project is just a hurdle that we need to get past,” said Julie Needs, executive director of the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center.
Their goal is to submit all the paperwork to the state before June and have the office up and running this summer.