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Lake City News

Lake City Building Officialdom: Columbia County Remains City Building Inspector – For Now

Surfside collaspe with headline: Building Inspections Matter. Columbia County Continues as Lake City's Building Inspectors
Photo: Miami-Dade Fire Rescue - Surfside collaspe | Columbia County Observer graphic

LAKE CITY, FL – Monday’s City Council meeting once again had the City pondering its relationship with Columbia County, this time about building ‘officialdom’: or, who is going to inspect construction projects in Lake City.


The last time Lake City had a building official was in the latter part of 2021 when Dave Young left to go to the City of Alachua. The departure of Mr. Young left Lake City with no one to do building inspections, a job which is licensed by the state of Florida.

City Resolution 2022-012 spelled out the City's requirements to have Columbia County act as its building official to provide building inspections. An interlocal agreement defined the City/County terms. [page numbers and annotations by the Observer]

The helter-skelter management style of the City by City Manager Paul Dyal and the faux or not-so-faux cancelation notice of the City-County interlocal is reported here:  City Manager Paul Dyal Cancels City/County Interlocal – Does Damage Control. Did Anyone Believe Him?

What is a Building Official?

The definition of a building code administrator or building official is defined in the Florida statutes. “It is the responsibility of the building code administrator or building official to administrate, supervise, direct, enforce, or perform the permitting and inspection of construction, alteration, repair, remodeling, or demolition of structures and the installation of building systems within the boundaries of their ...”

To inspect all aspects of building construction, one must be licensed by the state. In Columbia County, the one official with all the certifications necessary to do building inspections is the County's building department director, Troy Crews.

That leads us to Monday evening in City Hall.

Monday Evening

On the City's agenda was a resolution to terminate the interlocal agreement between Lake City and Columbia County, something else that Lake City couldn’t get right.

Noah Walker
Noah Walker (file)

Noah Walker, a possible mayoral candidate, came to the microphone and addressed the Council.

He said [abridged]: Recently, I was at lunch with a handful of our local builders and some out-of-town builders who have projects going on here. There's a lot of concern over this because no published plan exists. There was a lot of concern over what happens with ongoing projects. There was a lot of concern with planned projects and how these businesses' bottom lines will be affected by this termination.

Mr. Walker continued: I'm here to ask that the plan be published so that the uncertainty of this cancellation be removed. With uncertainty comes a lot of havoc in these businesses, mostly small businesses that are already planning on contingency if they can't finish these projects or if they can't get them finalized. "I would ask you just get a plan in place."

Councilman Jake Hill asked City Manager Dyal, “Do we have something pretty much in place? Or, how are we going to do this?”

Lake City City Manager Paul Dyal
City Manager Paul Dyal (file)

Mr. Dyal responded, "Yes, I actually spoke with Mr. Kraus today. Anything that this County already has permitted or is in the process of permitting, they will continue to permit through the County."

"Anything new that's comin' up, they will also permit until we get a plan in place. We're also -- we're lookin' at this time -- we are advertising for a building official. And we also should have tomorrow, a contingency for a consultant to do our permitting. Once we get that, we also have the option to go ahead and allow the County to continue to do the permitting for several more weeks or several more months. Me and Mr. Kraus had that agreement this morning."

Councilman Ricky Jernigan was not happy with the Dyal plan. He said, "It seems like to me we should get somebody in place first before we terminate 'em."

Mr. Dyal responded, “In the agreement, we have 180 days, six months for either side. And we had that language put in there to make sure whether the City wanted to terminate it or the County wanted to terminate it. We had a timeframe in which to be able to adjust it.”

Mr. Dyal got that partially right. Termination requires 180 days of notification. The County and the City may also agree to amend, cancel or supersede the agreement. Those actions would take the City Council and County 5 to agree on written agreements, not conversations between City Manager Dyal and County Manager David Kraus.

City Councilman Todd Sampson said, "I'll make a motion to table this resolution [terminating the agreement] until we have a building official hired and know the time frame. I mean, with hiring a contractor to be a building official, it's going to be a long time, so I make a motion that we table this until we know who's going to be in that position."

Only Councilwoman Chevella Young voted in opposition.

County Manager Kraus Weighs In

County Manager David Kraus
County Manager David Kraus (file)

Late this week, your reporter caught up with County Manager David Kraus for clarification of the City/County building official situation.

Mr. Kraus said that during his conversation with City Manager Dyal, Mr. Dyal told him he expected it would be about a month before the City would be able to take over building inspections.

Mr. Kraus said the County would end the City/County building inspection interlocal whenever the City desires.

Mr. Kraus added that the County 5 feels “it makes good sense for us to complete what we have begun and benefits citizens of both Lake City and Columbia County, and the business owners -- there is consistency; people know what to expect."

Finally, this afternoon, your reporter touched base with Noah Walker. Mr. Walker said, “Mr. Sampson’s plan is something I can live with.

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