Commission OKs waiver for Collins project

Published 10:24 am Friday, October 21, 2011

Architects unaware local permit required

CHESAPEAKE — A motion by the Lawrence County Commissioners has kept the renovation project at Collins Career Center on track after a permitting problem could have delayed it and cost funding.

At its regular Thursday meeting commissioners voted to allow a one-time waiver on the vocational school getting a local permit for the multi-million dollar project.

Collins’ treasurer Richard Sketel asked the commissioners for the waiver after explaining that the project’s architect, Fanning Howey, was unaware that there was a county permitting jurisdiction that had to be met.

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“Our architect while proceeding to get permit approval checked to see if there was a local jurisdiction and thought there was none,” Sketel said. “They had everything approved through the state. … Our architects did due diligence.”

However the architects were unaware that the county has its commercial permits reviewed by Columbus-based Michael Asebrook. To have the vo-ed school project go through a second review could delay the project that Collins officials would like to see go out to bid in January of 2012.

“We would probably have to do some design change and we are ready to move forward now,” Sketel told the commissioners.

The school has the chance to obtain $7.3 million interest-free money through the federal government, if it spends the funds within three years. Already 18 months of that time frame has elapsed. A delay would also put state funding in jeopardy.

“If we don’t go ahead we will be put on the bottom of the list (for state funding),” Sketel said after the meeting.

Approximately $15 million of the $24 million renovation is coming from the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

“This is the last time it will be offered to the district,” he said.

The three-phase project, expected to be completed in 2012, will renovate the approximately 122,000-square-foot-facility that offers career education to 530 students in fields ranging from cosmetology to welding.

The project will also add a 7,500-square-foot free-standing building that will house students during the construction. The school has also asked South Point Board of Education if it can use the old high school for students’ academic classes.

Besides securing construction dollars, the school must put aside two percent of the insured value of the project for the next 23 years for maintenance.

School officials want to get those funds from a half-mill levy expected to go before the voters in the 2012 primary. The levy would cost taxpayers $15 a year on a property with a marketable value of $100,000. It is expected to bring in $402,706 a year for five years.

Collins officials put the same levy on the ballot in November 2010 and saw it defeated 10,061 to 7,007.

“We still have to proceed and hope the people in the county will support it,” Sketel said.

Commission President Les Boggs asked that the center reimburse the county for permit fees it would have received. Sketel agreed to the request.