After building collapse, Illinois city rethinking business inspections
DU QUOIN, IL -
The city of Du Quoin, Illinois, recently spent thousands of dollars widening their sidewalks and installing new landscaping to beautify their downtown, but the one thing they didn't invest in were the 150 year old buildings which are now crumbling around them.
City administrator Brad Meyers says building owners are responsible for making sure their buildings are safe.
"Everything looks great and it is safe and light downtown, but along with that comes what you want to do and keep the buildings safe now that we know we have this issue with 150 year old buildings. The owners need to keep up with the maintenance," said Du Quoin City Administrator Brad Meyers.
Prior to the May collapse of the old Higgins Jewelry store building, the city of Du Quoin had been performing exterior inspections of downtown buildings to ensure their safety. After watching structural problems of three neighboring buildings, Tim Tennant admits he was worried.
"It's a lot of paperwork to go through just to put on some new guttering, but considering the age of the building and what has happened recently it probably is a good idea," said Main Street Boutique & Consignment Owner, Tim Tennant.
Meyers says inspections could go a step further by requiring owners to notify the city, who will then be involved with the rebuilding process.
"We want to know that it was repaired correctly and not just 'oh hey we've go it fixed,' lets go try to find out if it was done right," said Meyers.
Thursday night, the Du Quoin City Council agreed, and voted unanimously to pass a new ordinance that requires businesses in the historic downtown to apply for a permit before making any structural changes which may compromise the safety of the building.
Amendments are expected to be made to the ordinance at the next council meeting to spell out fines and other punishments for failing to meet the new code.