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Officials waiting for certification before allowing inspections

August 27, 2012
KATIE SCHWENDEMAN - Staff Writer ( , Salem News

COLUMBIANA - A move approved by majority of City Council in April is awaiting an OK from the Mahoning County commissioners and prosecutor's office.

Municipal Attorney Daniel Blasdell said the county officials are waiting until Bob Belding, the city's residential zoning inspector, receives certification before signing off on a contract allowing the county to conduct commercial building inspections in the city.

The commissioners oversee the certified department, which is already contracted with incorporated areas such as Campbell, Canfield, New Middletown, Poland, Sebring and Struthers, among others.

Council began considering the Mahoning department after the city's building code compliance was called into question by an anonymous person who contacted state Rep. Craig Newbold. The complaint was that the city could not enforce the 2006 state code approved by council in 2009 because it does not have a certified building department or building inspector.

In order to enforce a state code an inspector and building department must be certified. Blasdell said the city could have opted not to use the state code and become autonomous, enforcing its own council-approved code.

Belding has been inspecting one-, two- and three-family dwellings over the last several years. Commercial inspections went through the state, which some on council previously said is often costly and time-consuming.

Once Belding achieves certification he will continue performing residential inspections, and commercial inspections will be the responsibility of the Mahoning department.

Blasdell said Belding is not violating any laws by conducting inspections in the meantime.

In April, Belding told council the certification test will be completed within six months.

Mayor David Spatholt anticipated Belding would be taking the test in the very near future. The city agreed to pay the $75 fee for the test since he is a city employee.

Councilman Lowell Schloneger was the lone dissenter for the April vote. At that time council members heard from local contractors who were in favor of contracting with the county.

In July, Planning Commission member Richard McBane told council he was approached by "several" contractors who said they didn't believe it was the city's "best interest" to use the county department. He said the people did not wish to go on record about the matter, and encouraged council members to have a conversation with them.

The opposition was not brought up at the most recent council meeting.



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