City considering occupancy permit program

Posted: Aug. 9, 2014 9:24 pm Updated: Aug. 23, 2014 11:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The city of Quincy does not require much from businesses to open, but officials are mulling the idea of requiring an occupancy permit to ensure standards and codes are met.

Chuck Bevelheimer, director of planning and development, said while nothing has been formally proposed, the city has had a few instances where a business operated out of compliance with zoning.

"It's not an everyday thing, but it happens," Bevelheimer said. "That happens when we have someone using a building for warehousing, when it's really a commercial district and it's not an industrial district.

"When you start running a warehouse for storage without any retail sales when you're in a commercial district, that becomes a problem."

Bevelheimer said a city occupancy permit program could prevent zoning problems before someone makes a significant investment.

"It's always better to be proactive in addressing those type of problems than reactive, after the investment is made and people have tons of items stored," he said.

City Clerk Jenny Hayden said few businesses need a city license outside secondhand stores and trailer parks, unless they require a liquor license. Most others deal with licenses through the state.

While the city has had few instances regarding zoning complaints, Bevelheimer said he recalls complaints when Cirilla's, which sells lingerie and other adult items, opened a location on Broadway two years ago.

"We had complaints, and we had to go investigate and confirm that they were code-compliant," he said. "That was a case where they were code-compliant."

Bevelheimer said if the city ever enacts an occupancy inspection program, it would likely include residences, as well.

"The administration has talked to me about looking at something like that as it relates to some of the problems that we've had, especially the issues we've had with the connection of sump pumps and foundation drains into the city's sanitary sewer," he said. "If you had an occupancy permit that was across-the-board and not just for commercial, anytime you have a change in ownership you could do an inspection and address some of those problems and require disconnection."

Bevelheimer said a permit program would require more staff.

"Any additional responsibilities of that nature would require some support, so there is going to have to be a fee on it," he said