In response to the Beach Observer's Aug. 14, 2013 front page article entitled, Building Codes Slow Business Expansions, this should provide some insights to others who contemplate expansions of similar types of businesses. We do, however, take exception to both the characterization of the town's actions by the quoted businesses and their assertions of the facts.
The Building Code, permitting and inspection services of the Town of Fort Myers Beach are in place to insure that new buildings or renovated buildings are properly permitted and safely constructed according the requirements of the Florida Building Code. It is through this process that we are able to insure that those involved in the design and construction of new or renovated structures are appropriately licensed and qualified to perform said work. The Building Code is a state wide code that requires all communities to follow the same rules regarding building engineering and construction.
It is not however the Town's responsibility to design or engineer new or renovated structures. When property owners retain and pay professionals to correctly design and construct additions or renovations to their business structures, those property owners have every right to expect those professionals to deliver a complete and approvable application for permit.
In other words folks, it is the responsibility of the engineers or architect doing the design work to thoroughly know the codes and how those codes will affect their designs. For them to fail to do so and then point a finger of blame at the town is an incredible act of chutzpa. When a professional fails to either inform a business owner of impacts such as the need for a fire sprinkler system when a renovation is contemplated and then fails to include that in the design submitted for permit review, the onus of failure is upon the professional and not upon the town for doing its job in discovering it and requiring correction before permit approval can be accomplished. It is not only impractical but impossible for the town to be responsible for initial design concepts and proper engineering including whether all codes are properly applied during the design process.
It is perfectly acceptable for the town to be expected to do final quality control as a part of protecting the lives and safety of its residents, visitors and businesses. It is quite another to expect the town or its taxpayers to be responsible for the initial design of a private construction project.
Does it not seem both myopic and hypocritical for someone to complain about government interference in business and in the same breath complain that we should be responsible for the design failures of their paid professionals?
And finally, it is important to be very clear that the above observations are in relation to information in the article and the people and situations quoted therein. They are not and should not be taken as directed at the greater number of professionals who do their jobs with efficient expertise.
--Terry Stewart is the manager of the Town of Fort Myers Beach.