Building department issue hits the boiling point

Tired of City Hall not listening to their concerns, a group of Marshall businesspeople decided it was time to take action.

A full page advertisement of a petition was paid for and placed in the Independent Friday by these businesspeople. The petition was signed by 117 people and made three demands:

• Review the performance of the building department leadership and determine whether they are an asset or a severe hindrance to the future and progress of the city of Marshall

• Create a seven-person committee, made up of four representatives put forth by the Marshall Area building trades, along with two members of the Marshall City Council, and a seventh seat held by an independent voting chairperson familiar with the building industry and general construction codes and procedures. This committee would immediately proceed to review all existing local building codes and ordinances, considering their validity, and whether they are competitive with the codes and ordinances found in surrounding and comparable communities.

• Follow and review of codes and ordinances with further review of all related fees, assuring that they are consistent with surrounding communities and other cities of similar size.

On Tuesday, some of these businesspeople took up these demands with the City Council during a regularly scheduled meeting. “We’re trying to address a chronic issue in Marshall,” Chet Lockwood told the Council. Several speakers accused the building department of acting as an obstacle to growth and development in town.

This is a strong allegation levied against elected and city officials representing a community claiming to be pro-growth and seeking more jobs. The allegations involving the building department are not new. They have been festering for years. Half-hearted attempts to make corrections occurred during the past few years. A review was done in early 2015 in which a consultant recommended the building department emphasize communicating with the public.

City officials have made the mistake of letting these issues hit the boiling point. Greg Taylor walked up to the podium during Tuesday’s meeting and said “We’re done with dialogue. You get it changed, or we’ll change you.”

The business community has spoken. The question remains: Will City Hall finally listen and take action?