City can be unfriendly to builders

To the editor:

Oberlin touts itself as a welcoming town. Officially we want businesses and people to locate in Oberlin, build, restore homes and properties, spend their lives here, raise families, and participate in community life. We need this to maintain a vibrant, healthy, and economically viable town. I wonder if the reality is quite different?

Oberlin College had to sue the city (after months of discussion) for parking by the new Hotel at Oberlin (the former Oberlin Inn). Homeowners and developers are put through endless trials and tribulations to maintain and create new or restored buildings.

I know a reputable area builder who was putting in a new sidewalk. One half hour before the concrete truck arrived, an inspector found the concrete forms were one-eighth of an inch off. Forms had to be torn out and re-set, although the inspector had ample prior notice. A homeowner wanted to replace an aging outside stairway and deck. A well-established contractor provided clear, scaled drawings. Not acceptable. Had to be done by an architect. I know this person. He takes great pride in his home and the quality of work done. Not good enough. I recently heard about a local contractor who grew up in Oberlin. His company is known for high-quality work. He wants to leave Oberlin and take his work and money elsewhere. These are not isolated examples.

Oberlin needs good building codes, planning, and enforcement. Some city officials who have that job seem more interested in the power of their positions than being thoughtful and helping people build, stay, and gladly share in the life of our little town. Whose tail wags the dog and whose dog gets wagged in Oberlin?

Donald Spencer