Belmont County Contracts With Muskingum County for Inspections

As of April, Belmont County will no longer be contracting with Washington County to provide building inspections. Instead, those wishing to erect new buildings will work through the department in Muskingum County.

The commissioners made the announcement Wednesday during their regular board meeting, with Commissioners J.P. Dutton and Josh Meyer in attendance. Commissioner Mark Thomas was absent due to illness.

The board approved an agreement between Belmont County and Muskingum County to exercise enforcement authority in accordance with the Ohio Building Code. Dutton said the decision came after the commissioners looked at different options.

“Currently, we work with Washington County and Southeast (Ohio Building Department) in terms of building issues. We’ve been looking at other options over the past few months, including the possible creation of a Belmont County Building Department. We’ve decided at this time that the best option we believe for the county is an affiliation with Muskingum County’s building department, Mideast. We’ve had some meetings with them, and we’re very comfortable with the arrangement.”

The county has utilized Southeast for several years.

He added that a Belmont County Building Department still may occur at some point in the future, but there are no short term plans.

“Mideast is aware of that and will be willing to help us get that set up if we decide to go down that path later on,” Dutton said.

This follows an announcement at an early February board meeting where the commissioners had originally motioned to terminate the agreement with Washington County. At the time, the commissioners had said they were considering switching to another building department or working through the state.

In prior meetings, commissioners said Washington County has seen an increase in inspection revenue, a result of Belmont County’s growth. They also have mentioned instances of dissatisfaction with the services provided through Southeast.

The change will likely occur in mid-April, after the Ohio Board of Revision meets April 13.

“We will end with Southeast the day we start with Mideast,” Dutton said. “I think it will be a seamless transition. There shouldn’t be anything that (the customers) notice. They should be getting high level of service from the Mideast department in Zanesville.”

He pointed out the increased interest of developers and builders in Belmont County.

“There’s more building in the county. There’s more work to be done by a building department. That was some of the discussion initially in terms of whether Belmont County should create their own building department.”

Port Authority Director Larry Merry said ghe favors continuing to operate through a local county department rather than the state.

“I look forward to continued local solutions to the issues. I would be totally against a move back to the state, just out of logistics,” Merry said, adding that the advantages of working through Muskingum County include the fact that the building department is located in the same room as the records.

“The Port Authority wants to see a continuation of local departments doing this. It’s just because of the closeness of it, the service that can be provided. I think it will be a continuance of services and an improvement,” he said. “It’s a great step for economic development as opposed to dealing with the state. It’s logistics and how these different departments function.”