Wednesday, February 02, 2000
Need to license trades debated
Middletown policy panned by developers
BY DAVID ECK
MIDDLETOWN Developers and local contractors squared off Tuesday over the city's long-standing practice of licensing tradespeople who do work here.
The City Commission on Tuesday held a public hearing on the municipal licensing.
Developers say the licensing process is too time-consuming. They said state certification of tradespeople should be sufficient.
Local contractors argue that the licensing provides safety, and helps assure property owners that workers are qualified.
The licensing which requires a proof of experi ence and passing a written test is mandated for plumbers, electricians and people working on heating, air conditioning and ventilation. The city's licensing procedure, which can take up to 90 days, dates to the 1950s.
Typically, older communities have municipal licensing requirements while suburban areas don't, said Neal Barille, Middletown's director of development.
But the City Commission, following complaints from developers that the process is unwieldly, is looking at revising the procedures and could institute a registration system. Contractors would only be required to register with the city to do work in Middletown.
That would please developers, who say the current process stymies development in Middletown.
We're viewing things differently from other commu nities, said home builder Joe Cristo. Most of the communities around us have updated their current zoning laws. We can have development and have safety.
He pointed out that other areas like Mason, Union Township and Springboro are booming. And there is quality new construction in those areas.
It's an obstacle, Mr. Cristo said. It's anti-growth. It's anti-development.
But contractors argued that the licensing is vital for safe projects.
It should be our responsibility to put workers out in the city who are qualified, said Rick Cornele, who sits on the city's Board of Plumbing Examiners/Appeals. It's too much of a technical field now to turn someone loose without (proper) training.
City commissioners could take up the matter at a future work session.
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