“We hadn’t had time to study the changes you are making,” said Paul Story, the former city building inspector who now works in the building industry.
Essam Ahmad, the new city engineer, said the regulations were posted on the city’s Internet site last week, but Story said the documents were not on the city’s website when he looked.
City officials said the notice for the public hearing Thursday morning at City Hall and the new regulations were inadvertently taken off the website two days ago, but put back on Wednesday afternoon.
Mayor Bill Hereford told about two dozen people who showed up for hearing that their plan was to introduce the new regulations to the council at next Thursday’s work session, and approve the new regulations at the March 26 council meeting. That plan appears to have changed after the public hearing.
Everyone who addressed city officials Thursday said more time was needed to review the 140-160 page document.
Jason Goodgame, with Goodgame Company, said the company has several large development projects in the works and changes could cost additional money and time.
“There has not been enough time to review 140 pages of this document in a week,” he said.
Goodgame said he was told by the city engineer that previous approved work would be grandfathered in by the city, but there is nothing in writing about that in the new regulations.
“The rules are changing so fast, I want it in writing,” he said.
“We need more time to review this, 45-60 days,” he said, adding that there are certain sections of the regulation he totally disagrees with.
Homebuilder Philip Church complained that the city is putting more burdens on the builders, while providing tax incentives to new businesses moving into the city.
He said the high cost of doing business in the city deters new home construction.
“I can budget a job, come up here and find out it’s costing me more money,” Church said.
He said the recent economic downturn has put many builders out of business, and during hard economic times city officials continue to raise the cost of permits and fees, making it even tougher on local builders.
Church said he gets a cold shoulder every time he comes to City Hall.
“That’s not our problem is the reoccurring theme here,” he said. “That’s the attitude I get every time I come here.”
Realtor and former Mayor Lawrence Fields said sometimes cities over govern.
“We are now required to tap our own water,” he said. “Then you come along and say you didn’t do it right.”
He and other builders were critical Thursday of the city’s subdivision regulations, which was not the slated topic for discussion.
City officials said only minor changes were made to the city’s subdivision regulations and a public hearing was held in January before changes to those regulations were approved.
“I didn’t hear about any public hearing in January,” Fields said.
Commercial developer Bill Ellison also said changes to building regulations are keeping growth down in Pell City.
“Y'all are passing regulations that’s keeping developers out of here,” he said, adding that he hopes the city will revisit its subdivision regulations.
Developer Jeff Jones said the city needs to highlight all the changes to the water and sewer regulations instead of telling people “they were online; you should have read them.”
“Y'all represent us,” Jones said. “We’re a team here. Everybody needs to work together.”
Councilman Greg Gossett said the city engineer needs to highlight all the changes made to the new water and sewer regulations so everyone knows exactly what changes are being made.
He also said the public needs another 60 days to review the regulations.
Gossett also suggested the city hold another public hearing, but later in the day, after 5 p.m.
“I know it’s costing you money to be here,” Gossett told those at the public hearing.
Further discussion is planned for the proposed water and sewer regulations.
“We will meet again soon,” Hereford said.
Contact David Atchison at email@example.com.