Council overturns ‘unfair’ building permit policy
by Joshua Sharpe
November 08, 2013 11:23 PM | 2040 views | 3 3 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — The Canton City Council on Thursday night overturned its moratorium on home building permits on some streets in the city after several residents and builders came forward urging the council to nix the policy that one councilman called “completely unfair” and a “mistake.”

The city council voted unanimously to overturn the policy, which was adopted in August and stated that no permits would be issued for construction on lots if the street they sit on — or connecting streets — had been left incomplete by developers.

Officials have said every subdivision in Canton has the problem of streets being left incomplete by developers who went bankrupt or simply left the city after the housing market crash.

The city council has also hired on a third-party firm to do a study about how to solve the issue.

Within the now-dead policy, there was a loophole that would have allowed building on unfinished streets if someone had put up money guaranteeing that it could be finished. But for the residents and builders who spoke before the council Thursday, that loophole wasn’t enough.

River Green subdivision resident Neal Mullikin, who is also in the construction industry, agreed Canton has a problem with unfinished streets, but said the answer the council chose was wrong.

“The answer is not turning off the lights,” Mullikin told the council Thursday. “We all know that the streets have to be top-coated. But just turning the lights off to these guys that want to build in this town and that want to bring income and tax dollars into this town definitely is so far from the answer.”

Homebuilder Uwe Gogolin, who said he had been building in River Green for several years, told the council he owns a few lots he would like to build on, but those lots had become useless because of the policy.

“Right now, I can’t do anything with my lots. I’m being held hostage,” Gogolin said. “I’m not able to exercise my business. I’m not able to make a living.”

Because Gogolin isn’t a developer and only a builder, he said the streets were never his responsibility.

“I’m a builder, I own a lot,” he said. “I don’t own the street. I never owned the street. I didn’t have anything to do with putting the street in.”

After hearing the speakers Thursday night, Councilman John Beresford said the council erred when it adopted the policy by not thinking through all the potential issues.

Councilman Bill Bryan said the policy was a “mistake” on the city council’s part and it had to go.

“When we voted on this policy in August, I had no idea that there were builders, individuals that owned these lots already (and) were ready to build on them,” Bryan said during the meeting. “I had no idea.”

But after hearing there were builders ready to build, Bryan said he realized the policy was “completely unfair.”

“We need to turn these permits loose tomorrow,” he said. “We need to do that right now. That is not right. They bought their lots in good faith. We cannot hold these (permits) hostage. All these guys would have to do is get together, get a lawyer, (file) a class action suit.”

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Old Joe
November 11, 2013
Well the current council appears to be working for builders and developers and could care less about the citizens of Canton. As usual, they just kick the can down the (unpaved) street. Just like the previous administration that created this mess, these councilmen have sold out to developers. Happy to see that at least three of them were wise enough to not seek reelection. May the new council see roads paved with good intention.
Eric Schrader
November 10, 2013
This is a prime example of why we need new leadership on the Canton commission. Now that the residential building activity is starting to pick up and impact fees are generated every time a permit is issued, is the Commission going to squander these funds like past Commissions did. All the impact fee money that was generated by the hundreds of houses built along Prominence Point Parkway was shifted to other parts of the City. We have no parks, insufficient street lighting and where did the money go?
November 09, 2013
Got it right this time around
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