Developers, Not Residents, Get Help

The city of Cincinnati is once again looking out for business owners but not residents. Raise your hand if you’re surprised.

In a press release issued yesterday by the city of Cincinnati, developers are once again in line to get special treatment — as long as they pay for it — when it comes to building permits and inspections. There are no provisions outlined for complaints or opportunities for residents to challenge any aspect of the development process that might harm their community.

“Today the city of Cincinnati’s Department of Buildings and Inspections (B&I) unveiled its new ‘Optional Premium Services’ proposal before city council’s Economic Development Committee,” the release says. “These services, if approved by the full city council, are designed to better accommodate the often changing needs of development while providing customized services and ‘just-in-time’ permit approval and inspections services.”

Making development less cumbersome is a great idea, but without considering those who might be impacted by this rush to create a positive for developers and the city’s bank account, the balance of concern for everyone involved is once again lost to profitability. Government is supposed to protect all citizens, not just developers; and the forgotten population is once again the residents who are going to have to deal with the consequences of the mistakes created by the city’s new streamlined process.

“Same Day Permit Issuance:  Permit applications approved by all reviewing agencies will be issued the same day as approval as long as the request is received by noon — $250 surcharge to U&C permit fees,” the press release says.

This process wasn’t in place when Rockford Woods was being built in Northside by the now defunct EHHV, LLC owned by partners Jerry Honerlaw and Rob Etherington in 2001 for CiTiRAMA. Yet the developers were given permits and allowed to sell homes without filing the required paperwork. This is an oversight that has supposedly been fixed, but if there were a press release about the new system in place to help streamline complaints filed by residents, we missed it.

Six years later the city has told resident they have to negotiate with Honerlaw, Etherington and their attorneys —the developer who allegedly lied to them, left them with crumbling roads, vacant lots with serious erosion problems, electric bills and unpaid taxes that threatened foreclosure from the county.

Residents are unwilling to talk about how the negotiations are going because they’re trying to make sure they get the easements and other legalities worked out. They want their neighborhood finished because some want to move out and others want to be able to spend their precious time on other things.

Where is the city that is so desperate to show that the housing options in Cincinnati are improving and that city-living is a great thing? When they aren’t hurrying to make builders happy, they’re just waiting to see how the residents of Rockford Woods fare in dealing with the developer they chose for this city development.

Before you sign anything, just remember to read all of the fine print, verify that all of the permits are legal, the county has all of the proper easements filed and the title insurance you buy can’t weasel out if a mistake is found.

— Margo Pierce

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2 Comments on “Developers, Not Residents, Get Help”

  1. Analysis Required Says:

    How many permits are issued to developers versus residents?

    “There are no provisions outlined for complaints or opportunities for residents to challenge any aspect of the development process that might harm their community.”

    If allowed within the zoning code, or even under the more stringent historical or hillside overlays, what complaint or challenge should resides be afforded?

    Your implication is that the new system would result in a similar situation as CitiRama 2001, which is illogical leap to a conclusion that isn’t borne in fact.

  2. sho me da moneee Says:

    I see Chris Bortz has chosen to blog anonymously.

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