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— City building inspector Ray Adams appeared at the Nov. 9 city council meeting to inform the council that Simmons Foods has not submitted complete plans for its Decatur pet food plant, now under construction, and is not cooperating with his attempts to do annual safety inspections on the existing poultry processing plant and hatcheries.

Simmons did submit building plans, Adams said, but they did not include crucial plumbing and electrical details or firewalls. Adams said he asked for a set of complete plans four months ago and still has not received them.

“According to code, they should have given me two sets of plans before the (building) permit was approved,” Adams said.

The plans are required by the Arkansas Fire Prevention Code, according to Adams, who works underthe authority of the Arkansas State Fire Marshall.

The planning and zoning committee met secretly - without notifying the press - to approve the permit in June.

Adams explained that he needs to see the plans, complete with plumbing and electrical details and firewalls to protect Simmons from having to go back and redo any portions that are not up to code.

“If they build it and have to go back and add a firewall, it’s going to slow them down,” Adams said.

Adams also complained that Simmons original permit was for a 100-by-300-foot building, but Simmons has added on to it without getting an additional building permit.

The new building is over 36,000 square feet, three stories tall and has feed bins containing combustibles, he said.

Mike Davis, director of engineering and environmental operations for Simmons Foods, also attended the meeting.

Davis said Simmons provided plans except for the electrical and plumbing plans. He explained the electrical and plumbing drawings have not been completed because the new pet food plant is being built in phases.

“This is an unusual plant because its so fast paced we are having to design it as we go,” Davis said, explaining that he is trying to do an 11-month job in six months and that the plant is scheduled to be in operation by February.

At the council meeting, Davis claimed the expansion was a conveyer belt designed to take products from the original feed mill to the pet food plant instead of an addition that required a building permit.

However on Friday, Davis filed a building permit for a 5,162-square-foot “enclosure of existing structures and room addition.”

Davis also complained that Adams was asking for a plan review fee in addition to the building permit fee. The plan review fee is set at half the building permit fee, which was $5,570.

Davis said Decatur’s building permit fee was ten times higher than Siloam Springs and said he understood the plan review fee was included in the building permit fee.

City attorney Tom Smith confirmed the plan review fee was an additional charge.

“I know there is a plan review cost. When it’s a substantial commercial job, there is a substantial expense,” he said.

Mayor Bill Montgomeryasked Davis to get a complete set of plans to Adams.

“He should have a set of those plans,” Montgomery told Davis.

Annual Building Inspections

Adams reported that Simmons Foods had not allowed him to do the annual inspections of the existing chicken processing plant, feed mill and hatcheries.

City ordinance 93-92 requires industrial and commercial manufacturing plants to be inspected annually. The ordinance was passed after a man was electrocuted at the top of the Peterson’s Feed Mill in 1993, according to Adams.

During his annual inspections, Adams looks for electrical and safety problems, he said.

“As code enforcement officer, I’m allowed on any property in the city of Decatur,” Adams said.

“We do not welcome outside visitors into our plant unless they have a reason to be there,” Davis said, when asked why Adams was not allowed to do the inspection.He asked for documentation showing the city’s policies.

“We have to cover our I’s and dot our T’s at Simmons Foods,” Davis said.

He said the facilities were already inspected by OSHA which has tougher requirements than the city.

“Our company standards are more stringent than any city code,” Davis said.

“I did not honesty know this had been taking place every year,” Montgomery said, asking for more time to research the issue. The ordinance book that was consulted during the meeting had several pages missing from ordinance 93-92, but after the meeting it was found to state, “The city inspector shall make electrical inspections on all work performed byplant electricians on jobs that require an electrical permit and shall make routine inspections of plants under the following time frame: At least once each twelve months for Commercial or Industrial Plants.”

At the council meeting, Montgomery and Smith questioned whether it was good for “working relationships” to be doing mandatory annual inspections.

“We’ve got the right to do it; it’s just a matter of do we have the desire to do it,” Smith said.

“Whatever you think is proper for Decatur, Ark., we’ll abide by because we are a part of Decatur, Ark.,” Davis told the council.

During the council meeting Adams also accused Mayor Bill Montgomery of threatening to fire him if he interfered with the Simmons’ project. He later said Montgomery called him in June and made the threat before the project was submitted to the planning and zoning committee for a building permit.

“It (the new pet food plant) was supposed to be a hush, hush thing,” Adams said.

Montgomery said he contacted Adams and asked him to work with Simmons, explaining that he has received several complaints about Adams from residents.

“I did not want him causing trouble with Simmons, but I did not threaten his job. I told him we’ve all got to get along and work together,” Montgomery said, explaining he was trying to foster a relationship with the company where they could sit down ata table and work things out.

Montgomery said Adams needs to make a list in writing of everything he needs from Simmons Foods so Mike Davis can get it to him.

Adams does have the authority to shut down the facilities if Simmons Foods does not comply, Montgomery said.

News, Pages 1 on 11/18/2009

Print Headline: Building inspector, Simmons at odds over inspection issues

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