Building codes chief Greg Coates resigns

Two years after taking over the Inspections and Code Department for the Columbus Consolidated Government, director Greg Coates resigned his position on Thursday, City Manager Isaiah Hugley said Saturday.

Coates failed to fulfill an administrative agreement to obtain International Code Council certification within two years after he was hired as director on July 10, 2012. Although the requirement isn’t required by the state or locally by law, Hugley pointed out that the agreement was part of Coates’ employment as director. The director manages a department tasked with approving commercial and residential plans, and conducting inspections for construction in the city.

“We are holding him to that,” the city manager said. “He realized that he had not fulfilled that requirement.”

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson commended Coates for rebuilding the department but the agreement with the city manger was for two years and Thursday was the deadline.

The mayor said Coates was to complete a two-module test for the chief building officer. “He finished one module but did not finish one before the deadline,” she said.

The second uncompleted test was for technical knowledge on heating, plumbing, electrical and other code requirements. “He had not passed the second portion that would have required him to be fully certified by July 10, 2014,” Hugley said.

Coates isn’t the only staffer in the department affected by certification. A sign inspector no longer works for the city because of certification in his job, Tomlinson said.

The assistant director Fred Cobb also has to meet certification in about six months but Tomlinson said he is a licensed architect and should have no problems with certification. “He is more qualified than any of the ICC certifications,” the mayor said.

With the resignation of Coates, Hugley said Deputy City Manager David Arrington will guide the department until a new director is hired. Approval of building plans and inspections will continue as usual.

“We’ve got people certified in the department who are authorized to perform those inspections,” Hugley said. “The department will not miss a beat.”

The mayor credits Coates with bringing integrity back to the department. Before he took over as director, she said the department had morale problems, there were fraudulent reimbursement forms, violations of the harassment policy and other issues.

“The first thing we asked Greg to do was rebuild the department,” Tomlinson said. “He did and excellent job doing that. We went from having complaints of rudeness in the department to having none at all.”

Reached at his home late Saturday, Coates said he resigned for just personal reasons.