City Building Department Making Changes in Checks and Balances

By Abby Reed
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - The City of Midland is facing a possible lawsuit from homeowners who live next to the Blue Ridge Apartments, just off Loop 250. The Apartments haven't been completely built yet, but as NewsWest 9 has reported, homeowners say they're already ruining their property values.

Initially, the developers of the complex, submitted plans to the City of Midland. However, when construction began in the early summer, the Apartments were constructed in different locations, than the original plans called for. As it turns out, the developers did turn the updated plans into the city, but they never notified city officials that the plans were different than before.

Now, the complex faces into neighboring homes backyards and residents say they think the Apartments are closer in proximity than they were supposed to be. It's a mishap that Midland city officials can't talk about, because they don't want to speak about a pending lawsuit. However, NewsWest 9 spoke with Midland City Building Official Steve Thorpe, who says his department is making changes.

"We're all human beings, none of us are perfect, we all make mistakes. We just hope that those mistakes are not critical mistakes," Thorpe said.

Thorpe is implementing a new system of checks and balances within his department. He wants to make sure errors are few and far between. Which is why he is double and triple checking plans, approved by the City Council. He wants to make sure - unless the plans are being officially signed off on - they stay as is. If they need to be changed, he wants to make sure the plans go through the proper channels to be adjusted.

"We're making sure, that the City Council approved site plan is submitted by the applicant, it's checked for compliance, and we put in a system of checks and balances at two different points to make sure we're doing those things correct," Thorpe said.

Thorpe says the goal is to make sure potential mishaps can be corrected on paper before a shovel is ever stuck in the ground.

"We're trying to improve the development process in Midland. We want to talk to people when it's still a project on paper, before it becomes concrete in the ground and sticks in the air, that the project can go forward in the configuration that has been submitted," Thorpe said.