About a dozen property owners, contractors and tradesmen expressed concerns about the city building department, and specifically building inspector Dan Reardon, during the public comment portion of the Sept. 5 Delta City Council meeting.
Many said they do not offer their services in the city because the building inspector's demands -- described as unnecessary and inconsistent -- have cost them time, labor and materials. Those who do work in the city say they have learned to anticipate additional costs, and to build them into their bids, driving up the cost of remodels, additions and other construction projects in city limits.
Other contractors complained about furnaces that were okayed despite lack of proper clearance, and attic insulation that falls short of the required depth.
Later in the meeting, council member Ron Austin said it wasn't just a coincidence all those folks showed up at the same time. He said he had asked several to express their concerns, and the word spread. He explained, "Shortly after I got on council I made reference to perceived problems we have here in Delta ... and how councils have responded in the past with regard to growth in Delta.
"As we are in the process of trying to get the riverfront development and the hotel through DURA, these kinds of issues are extremely detrimental to the progress of not only that project, but other projects in this community."
Austin added that he's also heard that people are reluctant to speak up, due to the fear of retaliation or retribution on current or future projects.
"We can not, if we are going to proceed in Delta with new businesses, with some growth, we can not have this hanging over our head. It is beyond extremely important that we send out a message that we are open to business, we are receptive to their needs, because as you heard, a number of contractors will not work in Delta and some of the ones that do work here have added a pretty good price tag to their estimates just to make it worthwhile. I just ask you to really listen to what you heard tonight and let's move forward."
Mayor Ed Sisson was the last to speak, saying he has completed three major projects at his house, including a new roof, HVAC system and kitchen design, and neither he nor his contractors had any issues with the inspection process. "I hope it's not because of who I am," he said.
City manager David Torgler promised to look into the complaints and report back to the council.