County won’t provide building inspections in Climax

Published 12:47 pm Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Decatur County Board of Commissioners ultimately decided Tuesday not to have the county begin doing building inspections in the city of Climax.

On Thursday, April 18, the Climax City Council signed an inter-governmental agreement asking the county to assist Climax with enforcement of state building codes, including the issuance of building permits and other permits as required by state law.

The county tabled the issue at its Tuesday, April 29, board meeting, but resumed the discussion at Tuesday’s meeting. After hearing from speakers on both sides of the issue, the board voted 3-3 to sign the agreement. Because a 3-3 tie is a stalemate, the county essentially voted not to provide the enforcement.

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Commissioners Jan Godwin, Frank Loeffler and Russell Smith voted to sign the agreement, and Commissioners Dennis Brinson, Oliver Sellers and Dr. David C “Butch” Mosely voted against signing it.

Climax Mayor Charles Hadsock said Tuesday that he has spoken to two different representatives with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and both of them told him that Climax residents would not be eligible for full FEMA disaster coverage and assistance unless their building codes are enforced. He asked the county to sign the agreement.

Claude Shirley, a Climax citizen, spoke out against signing the agreement. He provided the commissioners with a petition signed by 86 Climax residents and property owners, who did not wish to have the county’s planning department enforce the state building codes. Shirley also said he had done some research in FEMA literature and had never read that FEMA would not provide full disaster coverage to areas that do not have code enforcement.

“I’m here to speak on behalf of the citizens of Climax,” he said. “There are a few that want it, but the majority don’t.”

Hadsock questioned whether Shirley’s petition was worded correctly, and also suggested that some of the names might have been signed by the same person or have been signed by someone that doesn’t live in Climax. Even if all 86 signatures were completely accurate, Hadsock said, it still was far from a majority of Climax’s population of 280 citizens.

Decatur County Building Official Craig Smith noted that the county’s planning department has handled code enforcement in Attapulgus and Brinson for some time, and that those citizens “seem to be very satisfied with that service.”

Mosely, a Climax resident, said he would vote against signing the agreement.

“The mayor and I have have had a longstanding friendship,” he said. “We go to the same church. I campaigned for him when he ran for mayor and I’ll campaign for him next time. But I think he’s wrong on this one. Under the circumstances I’ve had to deal with, with our building regulation, Climax does not need this at this time.

“I don’t care what Brinson’s got and what Attapulgus’s got. I represent Climax. We don’t need this in Climax at this time. Maybe down the road, with a change in heart and being more customer-friendly to builders. But right now, no.”

Commissioner Smith quickly responded to Mosely’s comments.

“Are we basing our decisions on who the building inspector is, or are we basing our decision on what the city of Climax needs,” Smith asked. “If Mr. [Craig] Smith was not in the picture or doing the inspections would we be in favor of it, or not in favor of it?”

“I would be more apropos [to vote for it], yes,” Mosely said.

Hadsock quickly interjected that “the city of Climax has no problem with Craig.”

After the 3-3 vote, Hadsock asked the county, “You’re saying that you’re denying us the same thing that has been given to Attaplulgus and Brinson?”

“To answer your question, yes, we did, right now,” Loeffler said.