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“SEEMS THERE ARE TO MANY ROADBLOCKS…”
Dilley Councilor Rudy Alvarez has encouraged the city administration to amend a 2019 building code ordinance in order to make local regulations more lenient.
The request was made during a council meeting Tuesday, June 13, when the councilor addressed Administrator Henry Arredondo and described what he believes are obstacles to prospective developers bringing new business to Dilley.
“Can we relax regulations so people can build?” Alvarez said. “We want to encourage people to build. I know two people who want to build but gave up. There must be some way to relax requirements so we can allow these people to work.”
Both the city administrator and the city’s legal counsel, Molly Solis, have indicated they believe building codes as well as local and state requirements may not easily be circumvented.
Arredondo indicated there has been communication between the city and a prospective developer, but delays may be due to an apparent document filing failure.
“We can look at the flow of the information that has to be coming in,” Arredondo said. “I have been communicating with the agent for the investor. She submitted her paperwork, so we submitted her plans. The hold-up was the plan review. It was emailed late today for plan review.”
The city administrator said Dilley does not have a qualified person on staff to review building plans and must therefore contract San Antonio-based Bureau Veritas to review commercial and residential permits.
Arredondo added that in the case to which Councilor Alvarez was referring, a delay was due to the applicant’s failure to provide necessary information.
Alvarez indicated he believes there is an advantage in Dilley making building permits more easily obtainable, as the city stands to profit from revenues generated by new commerce.
“The main purpose is to make improvements so we can tax it,” Alvarez said. “Seems there are too many roadblocks. There has to be a way to relax those requirements so those people will come in and invest.”
The city of Dilley’s permit requirements for commercial businesses include three copies of the completed set of construction documents that have been designed by a registered architect, engineer or interior designer. An applicant must then pay a fee based on the value of the building. Fees have ranged from $23.50 to over $5,600.
An application for a residential permit is a two-page document that does not specify fee amounts.
“They do ask for a lot,” Councilor Alicia Machado said of the permit requirements. “Extremely high amount of money to ask for, to do something. People could not afford it. Either pay this or build; people could not do both.”
Alvarez said he believes residents are trying to comply with requirements but feel it is a difficult process.
“In this case, they [the city] wanted the owners to come in, and they live in Florida,” the councilor said. “It is expensive and it is complicated.”
City Secretary Juanita Fonseca said permits can be completed and submitted online.
“We never informed them that they had to come in,” Fonseca said. “So the issue is they would not submit the paperwork.”
“Let’s let them build and not stop the process,” Alvarez said. “Those inspectors work for us and we tell them what we want.”
The city council adopted an ordinance in 2019 that requires compliance with the 2018 editions of the national electrical code, international building, residential, fire, plumbing, mechanical and energy conservation codes.
“Commercial [permits] have to comply with ordinance passed in 2018,” the city secretary said. “The issue at hand is that the council approved codes without a code enforcement officer on hand, certified, to be able to go out there and explain the process. That is the reason we have these problems.”
Alvarez asked the city’s legal counsel whether Dilley could revert to not having municipal building codes.
“You have certain building regulations that are required by state law,” Atty. Solis said. “Whether you change to be more lenient, you still have a minimum that has to be completed.
“If you do not have certified code enforcement officer, then you contract,” the attorney said. “That is the standard with most cities.”
The councilor argued that regulations in the 2019 ordinance were written for large municipalities, not rural communities.
“Those codes are for state requirements,” the city secretary said. “Once we get the paperwork, it is within seven to ten days that we can get the permit.”
Atty. Solis suggested that the city post an agenda item for a future meeting to discuss the issue further, allowing her time to conduct research into ways in which Dilley may ease its restrictions in order to promote economic development.