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Washington County Executive Calls Out Evers Administration for Delaying Building Projects and Much Needed Economic Growth

July 9th, 2020 | by NEWCA

Josh Schoemann, Washington County Wisconsin’s first-ever county executive, issued a statement today calling out Gov. Tony Evers’ administration for unnecessary delays in the mandatory review process attached to commercial building construction as well as plumbing and sprinkler plans.

Referring to them as “big government” delays, Schoemann explained that, “in Wisconsin most commercial building plans must be reviewed by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Standards (DSPS), or to a delegated local unit of government. In the best of times, these reviews cost a little bit of money, and take a little bit of time, but really, the review is nothing more than a formality.” He added that in the event something went wrong with one of these commercial building construction projects, the builder and/or engineer and architect would be held liable, “not a state bureaucrat.”

This review process is not new in Wisconsin and historically has added time to the design and construction process, but Schoemann points out that it has gotten exponentially worse under the current administration.

“In 2017, 8,845 plans were reviewed. In 2019, 7,408 were reviewed. At the same time, reviews have been taking longer, going from 22 days on average in the first quarter of 2017 to 46 days during the third quarter of 2019,” Schoemann stated. “Before COVID19, some contractors were waiting five months to have their plans reviewed. Even now, during the shutdown, reviews are taking up to two months, twice as long as DSPS’s stated goal. This wait is going to get longer as economy reopens.”

Not content to simply draw attention to the problem, the county executive pointed to legislative action being taken to help remedy the ongoing challenge.

“Fortunately, there is a solution. One of Washington County’s state senators, Duey Stroebel, introduced legislation that would significantly streamline the commercial plan review process. Under the plan, routine commercial building plans would not need to be reviewed by DSPS or a local unit of government if they are approved by a licensed engineer, architect, or designer. Examples of routine building plans would be a one-story building that will not be a place where a significant amount of people assemble, or a high-risk building. So, all schools, medical, childcare, apartments, multifamily, churches, bars, theaters and any building one story or greater would still need to have their commercial plan reviewed by government. In all cases, building inspections would not be affected by the legislation. The point is for the professionals to focus on the larger, higher risk, and less routine commercial plans.”

Schoemann explained it would also help alleviate the backlog in plumbing plans as well, “Also under the legislation, commercial plumbing plans with 25 or fewer fixtures would not need to be reviewed by state or local units of government if they were approved by a licensed master plumber.”

Unfortunately, the legislation was not acted upon in the most reason session. But, Schoemann is encouraging Gov. Evers to have the DSPS adopt these common sense reforms to help Washington County, and all of Wisconsin, get these projects moving faster, which will also provide a much needed infusion to the state’s economy.

You can read his complete statement here.

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