Higher building permit resubmission fee proposed by South Glengarry council

South Glengarry council and staff chat before a meeting Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

LANCASTER – While looking to make South Glengarry’s building department more accountable, Mayor Ian McLeod wants to also make developers accountable for their errors.

Ian McLeod floated the idea, which will be addressed in an upcoming staff report, as council took up the problem of delays in home building permit applications that are refiled for corrections.

While the township is meeting the provincially required 10 day turnaround on initial permits, the resubmissions have been a bone of contention with Deputy Mayor Frank Prevost. He says some permits have been sitting for weeks on the building department’s desk, waiting for approval.

A report at last night’s meeting (Monday) shows, with the exception of a couple of permits, the average turnaround is 4.5 days on resubmission.

But picking out one example – a permit received on June 29 and then issued on Oct 10 – Prevost said the resubmission turnaround of two days doesn’t tell the whole story. “That’s three months. I don’t know what occurred in between all that. But if he resubmitted two or three different times or one or twice in those timelines, I don’t know how long it sat there,” Prevost said.

The deputy mayor wants a staff report on what it would cost to make sure a resubmission deadline of 10 days is met.

That’s when the mayor floated the idea of an extra fee to make sure developers get it right the first time, which would put less strain on the building department reviewing applications that are incomplete.

“In the initial review, there’s the price to do it. Every review after it, there’s a brand new price. Maybe that will bring people to make sure that their designers are answering all of those questions. Your second submission, you’ve doubled your building permit (cost). I would think you would want to have everything addressed,” Ian McLeod said.

In exchange for the stiffer fee, under the proposal, the township would make a guaranteed turnaround time within 10 days for a resubmissions.

Other than the mayor’s suggestion of “doubling” the fee, no specific amount was discussed.

The mayor warned councillors that if there’s a guarantee on a turnaround, council better be prepared, come budget time, to add staffing to the budget to make those guarantees.

“We have to realize that these (the permits that had 13 and 20 day turnaround times on resubmission), well beyond the 10 days, were the result of budget and people. If we are going to commit to a deadline, we have to commit budget to make sure that deadline can be achieved…and where we get extra resources that has to be sorted out,” McLeod said.

This issue comes after Prevost zeroed in on chief building official (CBO) Kevin Lalonde over some residential building permits which have taken weeks to be approved after they were sent back to revision. He had been receiving a number of complaints from community members.

Lalonde has maintained they are meeting an acceptable standard, except for a couple of times this fall where there were long delays. He blames it on short staffing and vacations.

Council also heard the building department is not covering its costs through permit fees, thus relying on taxpayer dollars to support the department.

“There are frustrations. We all hear the frustrations. But when we review them and the frustrations are a genesis of a poor application or an application that was reviewed and the comments not addressed, I don’t know what to expect,” the mayor said.