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Whitwell designers may not be licensed in Ohio



The Ohio Architects Board is questioning whether the Ashland, Ky., firm that is involved with the renovation of the former Whitwell school building is licensed to work in Ohio. However, the design firm’s officials said, if the projects gets off the ground, they intend to abide by Ohio laws.

Two representatives of Design Development attended an Ironton Board of Zoning Appeals Thursday to explain plans to renovate the former school into 20 separate 900-square feet apartments.

Jack Hager, who owns the building, is seeking a zoning variance that would allow him to put multiple living units in an area that is currently zoned Residential 2. That means he could only put four apartments in the building.

Hager wants his building to be given R-3 status, which would allow him to put in multiple units. The zoning board denied his request and sent it to the zoning appeals board. That board has passed it onto the city planning commission.

In an email to the city, and copied to The Tribune, Chad B. Holland, investigator for the Ohio Architects Board, said, “It has been brought to the attention of the board that a non-registered design firm may be involved in a potential commercial apartment project in Ironton.

The attached article appearing in the May 29, 2012 Ironton Tribune suggests that the design firm, Design Development, may be involved in providing design services for the proposed apartment project. Please be advised that Design Development is not an Ohio registered architecture firm and may not offer or provide design services for this proposed project. An Ohio registered architect and/or Ohio registered architecture firm must provide the construction documents for a project of this scope.”

The Tribune contacted Design Development for comment and was sent a prepared response from Design Development Chief Executive Officer Tim Justice: “Design Development is a group of skilled design professionals performing professional services for residential and commercial projects.  For the project mentioned, these professionals will include, among others, an AIA registered architect and a registered structural engineer, all being registered to perform professional services in Ohio.

These registered professionals will provide services according to the Ohio Building Code, which we have in our office.  Before we begin work on this project, the issues of zoning must be resolved.  No work has been performed to date except for a concept presented to the City of Ironton Zoning Commission.  All work will be performed in full compliance with the Ohio Building Code and local ordinances including change of occupancy requirements.

“We have not been contracted to perform any professional services for the project pending approval of the zoning requirements.  Once we have a written contract with Mr. Hager, we will provide, for your approval and verification, the names and license numbers for the design team members as well as the licensed contractors performing the work.”

Mayor Rich Blankenship said a planning commission public hearing will probably be scheduled for early July. All adjacent property owners must be notified of the hearing and the hearing must be advertised at least 30 days in advance.

The planning commission must give its approval to Hager’s request for a variance before he can undertake his project.”