Citizens deserve courtesy

The bottom line: People dealing with the city of Wapakoneta should be treated in a courteous and professional manner.
Wapakoneta City Council President Stephen Henderson summed up a 10-minute discussion that stemmed from Mayor Rod Metz’s recent attendance at a state building code public meeting the mayor said was organized by the Wapakoneta Fire Department and engineering department personnel. The discussion was part of Monday’s city council meeting.
Metz explained the meeting was to discuss certain buildings, including those located downtown, in relation to the regulations that are part of the National Register of Historic Places and what possible role the historic preservation tax incentives may play in requiring those buildings be updated to current code.
Metz’s activity report also included a meeting
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with city solicitor Denny Faller to talk about building code problems. Councilor Jim Neumeier asked if the two meetings were related. Neumeier referenced previous conversations about the fire department’s role in building code enforcement.
The mayor defined the chain of command when it comes to building codes.
“The fire department doesn’t give certificates of occupancy,” Metz said. “The fire department does inspections; that’s when they may find code violations. The ultimate authority is with the state of Ohio.”
Neumeier said it sounds as if the state is easier to work with than the local fire department.
“The complaints I hear are our fire department pushes these people the wrong way,” Neumeier said. “(Chief Kendall Krites) antagonizes people to the point they don’t want to be in the city.”
Metz said the fire department is often the first government entity to find a problem but once the state department gets involved, the local fire department is out of the equation. The mayor encouraged potential buyers to get an expert opinion about a building’s suitability prior to purchase to ensure the building can be used for the new owner’s intended purpose.
Sometimes, “if (the buyer) had contacted the state before they bought the building, the building owner wouldn’t be in a situation,” Metz said.
“It just seems like we’d be better off if our fire department could be friendlier,” Neumeier said.
Service Director Bill Rains said, “Kendall enforces the rules of the state; and we have addressed how we address that.”