City delays vote on business inspections


Dan Watkins, owner of Herbal Embers, 161. E Lincoln Highway, looks on Tuesday at his shop. Watkins said a proposed ordinance that asked business owners to pay for yearly inspections could hurt entrepreneurs. “I hope we can open up lines of communication between the city and businesses,” Watkins said. “I believe in this community, but small businesses walk a thin line, and I have to do what’s best for my business.”

By Jessica Christofersen

Business owners balked at an ordinance that would require businesses to pay for a yearly inspection, leading to the postponement of a vote on the ordinance.

The postponement of voting on the Commercial/Industrial Building Responsibility Code ordinance, which was proposed at a Sept. 8 City Council meeting, was announced at Monday’s meeting.

The City Council directed City Manager Anne Marie Gaura to meet with members of the business community and get their input as stakeholders. Voting on the ordinance has been postponed until Jan. 26.


The new timeline for the Commercial/Industrial Building Responsibility Code was decided between the City Council and Gaura at Monday’s City Council meeting. The ordinance will come back to City Council as a summary memo, not a complete ordinance, to be considered and reviewed on Dec. 8.

A hearing where members of the public may comment on the ordinance will be held Jan. 12.

“The general public should have just as much chance to give input before the first reading,” 3rd ward Alderwoman Kristen Lash said at Monday’s City Council meeting.

Members of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation, DeKalb Area Rental Association and the Public Policy Committee of the Chamber of Commerce have already had meetings with Gaura to discuss their concerns.

Gaura said this week there will be continued meetings with downtown merchants and the DeKalb County Building and Development Association to address concerns with the ordinance.

Brad Rubeck, DeKalb Area Rental Association president, said the meetings have had good dialog and are a good starting point to receive input from people who would be directly affected by the ordinance.

“… We realized after meeting with all these stakeholder groups we are going to circle back and have one group meeting with everyone, sharing what we heard and then go back to the City Council,” Gaura said.


The business community has voiced its concerns with the proposed ordinance for months.

The main concerns of the business community are scope, structure and cost, Gaura said. An original ordinance proposal that did not have an estimation of how much the inspections would cost has been taken “off the table” since Gaura met with associations that represent businesses, she said.

“We will not be recommending moving forward in an ordinance that is as extensive as it was originally proposed,” Gaura said.

How the inspections would be completed was also a concern to the business community. DeKalb Fire Chief Eric Hicks said the city is looking at having members of the DeKalb Fire Department conduct the inspections.

The city has also considered contracting out the inspections to SAFEBuilt, which offers “customized full-service building department programs and supplemental services in short- and long-term engagements,” according to its website.

Gaura said she will continue to meet with stakeholders to look at how she can address the public safety concerns there are with the buildings, but that will be done in a practical way for the business community.