The Fremont City Council was split on a decision to sign an interlocal agreement with Yutan to provide assistance to the town’s building inspection department during its meeting on Tuesday.
The council’s vote was split 4-4 following a motion to approve the interlocal agreement, which was ultimately approved by a deciding vote from Mayor Scott Getzschman.
Council members Mark Jensen, Mike Kuhns, Mark Legband and Matt Bechtel voted to approve while Glenn Ellis, Susan Jacobus, Linda McClain and Brad Yerger voted against the interlocal agreement.
According to City Administrator Brian Newton, the City of Yutan approached the City of Fremont for assistance with commercial building inspections and plan review as it does not have experienced staff or the ability to hire full-time staff to conduct the inspections.
“They can handle residential, but they have difficulty handling commercial so they wanted to see if (Chief Building Inspector Don Simon) would come down and help them out,” Newton said. “The idea is that Don is going to try and teach them a little bit more about inspections, particularly about those commercial ones, which are pretty complicated.”
While the agreement itself doesn’t provide a specific number of total days, or days per month, that Simon would provide assistance, Newton said it would most likely be one day a month that he would travel to Yutan under the agreement.
Under the agreement, the City of Yutan will reimburse Fremont for employee labor, mileage, and any expenses associated with inspection and review services furnished on an as-needed basis.
Council members who were opposed to the interlocal agreement cited concerns about the building inspection department’s already full workload due to flooding in March as well as the number of housing developments planning to begin construction in coming months.
Council President Susan Jacobus referenced a similar agreement signed between Fremont and the City of Lincoln back in April that brought inspectors from Lincoln to Fremont to assistant in the building inspection process following flooding on March 15.
“We’re bringing someone in from Lincoln and paying for their expertise and now you are saying that we’re not busy enough to afford that one day a month,” she said. “I’d really hesitate to go out on a limb and say yes we can afford to send our main guy down the street to help them out. I appreciate wanting to help someone out, but we have our own problems.”
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Newton said that initially, the city did have inspectors come in from Lincoln to help with post-flood inspections, but that he didn’t think they had been utilized since the first week following the flood.
“This is more of a mutual aid thing really,” he said. “We help our neighbors, they help us.”
Jacobus and McClain also brought up concerns raised by members of the public about delays in the permitting process following the flood, and how the interlocal agreement might affect the building inspection department’s ability to complete the permitting process in a timely manner.
“I’ve had several phone calls from residents and businesses that were not happy with what they thought was slow service and I would just hate to put more fuel on that fire,” Jacobus said.
They also pointed to the number of housing and mixed-use developments coming to Fremont in coming months including Gallery 23, SunRidge Place, Morningside Crossing, Morningside Pointe as another reason the city’s building department needs to be fully staffed.
“We do have a lot going on and I don’t have any problem with helping a neighbor, but we do need to look out for ourselves during this really big period of growth,” McClain said.
Yerger also raised similar concerns.
“I am sympathetic to Yutan, but on the same token I am sympathetic to the residents of Fremont who need timely inspections and especially with these builds that are going to come on line here,” he said.
Ultimately, Legband made a motion to approve the interlocal agreement which was seconded by Jensen. Following a 4-4 vote, Mayor Getzschman voted to approve.