The Starke County Planning Commission at their regular October meeting heard a request to reduce a building permit fee from Attorney Todd Wallsmith on behalf of American Oak.
American Oak is looking to construct a new 100,000 square foot building, but with the current fee schedule, Wallsmith said they would be looking at a cost of $20,000 for the fee. This five-figure cost, Wallsmith explained, highlights the commission’s need to rework their fee schedule which is currently set at $0.20 per square foot.
This fee works well for homeowners constructing small buildings, as the fee for an 800 square foot building with a bathroom, electricity, furnace, and other essentials would cost approximately $160, and require eight to ten visits from the building inspector. American Oak on the other hand, with their 100,000 square foot project, will be using the building primarily for storage and shipping, with anywhere from eight to 15 visits from the inspector. Wallsmith said this highlights the need to revise the schedule, which he believes will greatly help out local businesses helping to expand – something that has been happening more and more recently.
American Oak, Knox Fertilizer, and most recently Reagent Chemical have requested tax phase-ins for business expansion. Wallsmith explained that cutting back on the high permitting fees would lessen the financial burden of expansion.
The planning commission will be reviewing the permit fee schedule and will determine what to do with the fees at their next meeting on Nov. 14. Wallsmith said he’s confident American Oak will see a reduction in the fee and hopes the commission will base the permitting fees on what is reasonably necessary to inspect the new structure to ensure the facility is safe and meets code.