STEUBENVILLE - The city's planning and zoning commission delayed a decision Monday night on increasing building permit fees until the January meeting after commission members expressed concerns about the proposed increase.
"We need examples for contractors to use when they are talking to a client. I'm not sold on charging a permit fee on top of a plan review fee for commercial construction. I would like to wait until we have examples, and I would also like to get building permit fees from other communities for comparison. And I would like to wait on making a decision until the full board is here," said commission member Eric Exley.
Commission members Bill Hendricks and Teresa DiCarlantonio also expressed concerns about the increase.
"Maybe we could look at gradually increasing the fees over a two- or three-year period. I don't want to discourage anyone from building in the city," noted Hendricks.
According to Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi, the city's current building permit fees date back to 1965.
"We looked at what the fees would be today with the annual inflation rate and then cut the proposed fees in half at that point. We took that proposal to a five-member construction advisory committee and the general consensus was to proceed with the new fees. We can't continue charging 1965 building permit fees," Petrossi told the commission members.
In other business, Petrossi announced X-Treme Demolition of Wellsville has been awarded the demolition bids to take down the former Safari Lounge and an adjacent former apartment building on North Eighth Street.
Petrossi said X-Treme Demolition was the low bidder at $28,000. RSV Inc. of Steubenville also expressed interest in the project with a $58,000 bid.
"The second round of 2013 demolitions are out for bid now, including 615 N. Eleventh St., 625 N. Eleventh St., 1217 Claire St., 912 Main St., 914 Main St., 916 Main St., 1027 A Wilson Ave. and 1027 B Wilson Ave., Bids for those projects will be opened Dec. 12," said Petrossi.
The commission requested the City Council sunshine legislation next week advertise for demolition bids for fire damaged structures at 1409 State St., 711 N. Seventh St., 235 N. Eighth St., 312 Mears Ave. and 523 Maxwell Ave.
The commission also requested council introduce legislation at next week's meeting to approve the reprogramming of Community Development Block Grant funds.
"As you are aware I have stressed the need to expend CDBG funds as quickly as possible. This includes everything from administration to choosing not to fund slow moving projects even though they may be eligible and worthwhile endeavors. This year the city was over the annual grant amount still available 60 days before the new program year date. This is primarily due to the slow moving nature of housing rehabilitation projects," cited Petrossi.
"I am proposing to reprogram from housing rehabilitation to code enforcement, street improvements and demolitions. A public hearing will be scheduled for the Jan. 7 meeting to move forward with the reprogramming proposal and the commission will then need to consider asking for legislation from City Council," added Petrossi.
"If we proceed with this we will move one rehabilitation staff member to property maintenance code enforcement," he noted.
Petrossi also reviewed the city's second program year Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report.
"As of Sept. 30, 2012, the city had spent $793,626.42 in CDBG funds for affordable housing, community development and economic development activities and assisted seven households in carrying out housing-related activities and completed 15 demolitions," announced Petrossi.