Salem can have a local building department

To the editor:

Our city council has an opportunity to make an historic change that will greatly ease the burden of economic growth on small businesses.  We at the Downtown Salem Partnership (DSP) work to bring development to the downtown area. 

You may have noticed several new businesses put out a “Coming Soon” sign and then not actually open for many months later. Why? Without a county or city building department, everything a business does has to get approval from the state building department in Columbus. Want to lease a commercial space? You have to get a certificate of occupancy from the state. What to make any minor changes to the building? Better make sure you have a full set of architectural drawings. Have a question? Your answer may be different depending of which of 13 state plans examiners you get on the phone. The process is frustrating, time-consuming and expensive.

 We believe we have found a better way — one that we have introduced to our membership and other organizations, as well as the mayor and city leadership. By partnering with a third party building department, SAFEbuilt, Salem can have a local building department. Representatives in Salem can guide and assist our businesses with quick and timely plan approvals, permitting and inspections. Fees would be set by city council and likely would be less than the state fees. Salem would receive this service at no cost and would even keep a small portion (10 percent) of the proceeds. Right now 100 percent of the fees go to the state. Providing a service such as this to our community will spur economic growth, ease the burden to businesses, and give us a competitive advantage over neighboring cities.

 The Downtown Salem Partnership supports the adoption of SAFEbuilt as our local building department. 

 William Dawes,


Downtown Salem Partnership, 

On behalf of our leadership and members