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Sep 28, 2010 8:03 PM by Andy Koen

Businesses blame city bureaucracy for slowing development

The front doors of Michaels on Main Street in Canon City, with their ornate custom glasswork, are certainly attractive to passers by. But it was the deadbolt lock that gave owner Jan Gould such fits.

City inspectors insisted she install a lock with specifications such that no manufacturer even made one. 

"Finally one of the manufacturers, he questioned what we were looking for, said he knew of no one that made such a mechanical devise," Gould said.

So, she had one custom built. But that ordeal is just one example of the hundreds of code inspection roadblocks she met that eventually more than doubled her overall cost and time involved in opening.

"Everything that we did, most of what you see in this building was done two or three times so that we could get it right," Gould said.

She isn't alone. The Canon City Chamber of Commerce, Fremont County Economic Development Corporation among others have formed an ad hoc committee to lobby city council and Fremont County Commissioners to reform their building codes.

"We feel that these regulations coupled along with a poor economy is causing job loss and a lack of new growth here," said Michael Butts, a local realtor and co-organizer of the group.

"We think there's been a shift of the pendulum toward higher regulation maybe tailoring, following the example of larger cities," said Butts' co-organizer David Reynolds, a local contractor and member of the FEDC. "We'd like to see that pendulum swing back the other way."

The city's new development plan was adopted three years ago and city manager Steve Rabe says, yes, some of the codes need to be revised.

"Probably within one month after it was approved by city council, as staff we were already back asking for changes because we actually had case where we had to use it and it wasn't working for us and it wasn't working for the applicant so we have been trying to refine it," Rabe said.

But he says the codes are still necessary for public safety, and that's wrong to blame his inspectors for any kind of economic downturn.

"No, I have phone calls every day, every week, every month from people wanting to relocate to Canon City, talking about business opportunities, some of them work some of them don't."

Members of the ad hoc committee have met with city council and Fremont County Commissioners to discuss their grievances.  So far, they haven't been satisfied with the outcome.

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