An effort to encourage homeowners to make improvements to sagging, dilapidated garages didn’t go as well as planned, according to one village commissioner, but the potential benefits of the program are strong enough that he would like to give it another go.
For almost three months this summer, property owners in Forest Park could obtain a free permit from the Department of Public Health and Safety to build a new garage or make repairs to an existing one. The moratorium on permit fees was first introduced to give victims in a string of suspected arsons a break in rebuilding their burned out garages. Commissioner Mike Curry then championed the idea as an incentive for other property owners to make needed repairs.
However, the department issued only one permit to construct a new garage during the moratorium. Fewer than two dozen permits for repairs were written as well, according to data released to the Review under the Freedom of Information Act.
In August of 2007 alone, nine construction permits were issued for new garages.
“It did not generate as much interest as I would have thought, but the interest generated seems to be adequate given the economy right now,” Curry said.
When the moratorium was originally proposed, Curry said he expected the investment made by property owners would help the village recoup any lost revenues by way of increased property taxes. Curry also suggested the program would be a carrot for property owners with garages in violation of local building codes.The village has not contacted those who received permits to learn if they were motivated by the fee-waiver, but intends do so. Efforts by the Review to contact several of the property owners were not successful.