A meeting Friday morning between the City of DeKalb and members of the business community resulted in a positive conversation regarding proposed updates to the City’s business inspection program.
City staff members hosted around 50 community members at City Hall’s Council Chambers, where a lively discussion gave all parties the chance to ask questions and give feedback on proposed updates to the City’s inspection process under the Commercial and Industrial Program.
“We had a great exchange of ideas,” said City Manager Anne Marie Gaura after the conversation, one in a series of meetings to address a proposed update to the inspection ordinance.
Most notably, the updated process would require regular inspections of all DeKalb businesses. In attendance Friday morning were business owners, property owners and managers, members of the real estate community and other stakeholders.
“Based on the feedback we have received so far, we have proposed a drastic reduction in the scope of the program, a restructuring of the program so it can be coordinated by on-duty Fire Department staff and an elimination of the cost element,” Gaura said. “[This] has been a great learning experience for us.”
She also said that stakeholder comments regarding the proposed plan indicated that members of the business community were eager to have “a seat at the table.”
During the meeting, Gaura outlined the amended ordinance development process, noting that staff took previously received comments on the plan into consideration when revising the schedule.
Other staff members, including the City attorney Dean Frieders and Fire Chief Eric Hicks, were on hand to answer questions and provide specific information.
Hicks outlined specific proposed changes, as well as items that would remain the same if an updated ordinance is passed. Frieders emphasized the need for an open dialogue between the City and the business community at all times. “It is critical that we don’t pass an ordinance and then stop talking,” Frieders said.
After City staff provided updated information, guests were given the opportunity to give feedback and ask questions. Several attendees said they don’t like the idea of the City using the proposed ordinance to “overreach” and require unnecessary steps.
Frieders indicated that recent structural issues at buildings in DeKalb have posed safety concerns that could have been addressed with a regular inspection process. The City wants to “design a process to identify [challenges],” and control potential problems, Frieders said.
Other comments emphasized the desire for additional information from the City, and several business owners noted that inspections from the City of DeKalb are positive elements of the relationship between the City and the business community.
“[We] understand you want more information,” Gaura said during the meeting. She emphasized that the City is dedicated to finding a compromise that works for all parties. The City is asking on a larger scale, “How do we move DeKalb forward?” Gaura said.
The proposed Commercial and Industrial Program will be addressed at the City’s December 8 council meeting.
All documents provided at the meeting Friday, as well as a video of the event, are now available on the City of DeKalb website under ‘What’s New.’