By Mike Kruzman /

The Livingston County Building Department and Northfield Township officials are exploring a potential partnership.

In a search for a building inspector, Northfield Township officials were provided two recommendations from Hamburg Township. One, which Treasurer Jacqueline Otto brought to speak to the Board of Trustees, Tuesday, was the Livingston County Building Department. Building Official and Department Director Jim Rowell spoke with Board, telling them they also provide out-of-county services for Williamston that have been working well.

With everything coming out as basically cost-neutral, Rowell was asked what was in it for Livingston County. He told the Northfield Board that it provides stability and security for his staff.

Northfield Supervisor Ken Dignan said they are really only looking for permitting and inspecting. One problem his Board is trying to solve is that they currently only do inspections on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which can be time costly for residents and businesses. Having a full staff, Rowell offered guaranteed next-day inspections. Rowell said the reachability of his inspectors is one of their greatest strengths.

Trustee Janet Chick has spent several years as the Board’s Planning Commission liaison and wanted more information on how a partnership would affect Northfield’s existing building department. She also didn’t want Northfield Township residents to be paying more. Rowell claimed they have the lowest fees in the region and have reduced them three times in recent years. He said they are not paid by the inspection like others, as they find that creates incentives to find something wrong.

It was discussed among the Board that this would free their building department up for more work with the planning commission and zoning board of appeals, as Livingston County wouldn’t handle their zoning. Rowell said they would build in a clause to let either side pull out of the deal if needed because if they worked together, it would need to be mutually beneficial.

Dignan made a motion that passed unanimously to continue exploring the process to see if this will make sense for all.