The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

February 5, 2013

Too much red tape


Commercial-News

DANVILLE — I can only imagine how hard it must be to run a city government like Danville. The decisions must be enormous.

Take for example, a church decides to put in a parking lot for the ease of it’s parishioners. The church hires a seemingly reputable company, which fails to get a permit. Now the city has to decide, how do we punish this church.

Here’s what the city decided to do. The parking lot needs a retention pond and landscaping so car headlights don’t shine into the people’s homes across from the church. It doesn’t matter no one complained about the headlights or even the parking lot. The only thing that matters is that a permit wasn’t obtained.

Had the contractor secured a permit, the city would have told it what to do —cure a non-existent water flow problem and appease all of their uncomplaining neighbors.

Out comes part of the parking lot and in comes a huge trench leading to a 4-foot deep, 20-plus-foot wide, hole. We have no idea what to do with the trench. We just know that landscaping or a fence has to go there. All this must be done because there was no permit. The added cost: $10,000.

Update: We now have a water flow problem. The assumption was the water would drain and there would be no standing water. Not the case. The land is clay and it is not absorbing the water. The trench is a huge muddy gully. The church has to hire people to come and drain the standing, stagnant, sewer-smelling water and flush it into the streets. The water flows to a new city drain at the end of the street, but the drain is higher than the ground around it — another city innovation — so the water flows down the street past another church to a different drain. Don’t forget, it’s cold right now so they have to put salt down to keep the freshly flushed water from freezing. We don’t want people slipping and falling or cars crashing into poles.

Now, the city is getting complaints, mainly from me because this is all happening in my backyard. To quiet me down, the city has decided the church must now put a pump in the hole to keep the water from staying there. This sump pump must drain into the street. Imagine someone putting a noisy generator in your backyard. To make matters worse, the church doesn’t have the money to do what the city is proposing to fix the previously non-existent problems that they’ve now created.

A friend of mine, a big contractor from Champaign, was asked by the city to come and build properties here because no one was doing much.

My friend came and asked one question: “What are you going to do about your out-of-control, power-hungry city inspectors and engineer?” The city said, “Nothing, why?”

You figure out why no one wants to build in Danville and what gets built is slow and filled with red tape and everyone wonders, “Where does this incompetence come from?”

Needless to say, my friend turned the offer down and chose to build in Urbana.

Harsha Gurujal resides in Danville.