SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – The city of Salem does not have a building department, which is not uncommon for a city the size of Salem. But that does make Salem reliant on the state for building inspections.
Those inspections usually stop after new construction, meaning older buildings that may need periodic inspections get left in the dust.
“They’ve heard and seen first hand here in Salem what happens when buildings do decline and don’t have proper maintenance, and so we’re trying to prevent the same types of things from happening that have happened downtown,” said Salem Mayor John Berlin.
Salem City Council contracted a third-party group, Town Center Associates, to help reinvigorate the downtown area. The group’s recommendation was to adopt the “International Property Maintenance Code,” a maintenance document that establishes minimum standards for basic equipment, light, ventilation, heating, sanitation and fire safety.
This would establish a building and maintenance code ordinance and require regular building inspections for the historic commercial district.
Mike Mancuso, executive director at The Sustainable Opportunity Development Center, said developing regular inspections is important.
“We want people to come to Salem and invest in downtown Salem. We want businesses to flourish,” he said. “They really need to have a sense of safety and security that the building next to them isn’t going to fall on top of them.”
The Fire Department would complete the inspections, in addition to their safety inspections. The fire chief is confident that his department can handle the extra responsibility.
The mayor said the additional inspections will come at no additional cost to the city, and no new employees will need to be hired. They’re hoping to have a first of three readings on adopting the plan at the next City Council meeting.
“We do love our downtown, and we want to see it stay in tact and not see it crumble,” Berlin said.