We have been opening a new shop in Marietta and it has taken a lot of time to get it done, more than I ever thought. But we are now up and running in a 4,000 sq. ft. building. We will soon have Moss parts in stock plus a lot of NOS items such as Lucas and factory original. But let me tell you what it took to get open.
Cobb County has made it as hard as possible for new small businesses to open. Or it seems like that to us. It started when we went for our business license. You now need (as of Dec 2011) to get zoning, building, and fire dept. inspections and signatures before they will SELL you a license. The building we were renting was built in 1995 as auto repair in a general commercial zoning, no problem there. Wrong! The last tenant was a lawn mower/tractor repair and the very arrogant zoning personnel said it had lost its auto repair zoning.
They said it now was neighborhood activity zoning and nothing as intense as auto repair could open there. They failed to see the similarity of auto repairs and lawn and garden tractor repair. So we leave without the license. Now we have to call our landlord and inform him. The zoning change was news to him. Zoning needs to be shown that the building has been vacant less than four months and should not have lost its zoning. With printouts from the license dept. showing the lawn mower place had a license, which they did, we show them where the county’s web site shows the property as “general commercial auto repair facility” (that is a quote from the website) but it does no good. They have made their decision and it is final.
Our shop is the second building on one lot where one half is commercial and our half is not, yet we share a water meter as the county would not allow two meters on one lot when the buildings were built. It took about four weeks before our zoning issue was corrected at zoning. It took several meetings between our landlord and county commissioners including a Mr. Hossack who oversees everything in Cobb County. Now we could get a license and start setting up the shop and quit wasting time, or so we thought.
One requirement is applying for a water meter. Remember I said we share a meter already in use. Yes, that created additional problems. Now we go for our inspections with the building department and fire departments. The building is in excellent condition, very clean and modern. What could he find wrong. It has a handicap bathroom, correct emergency exit signs over the doors, all wiring is in conduit, we have a wheelchair ramp, all is good.
I did not say we installed two new lifts, did I? We ran the wiring overhead inside steel conduit. Did you know you cannot run the romex style cable inside the conduit? They make you remove the outer protective sheathing and run just the three/four coated wires inside. Wouldn’t having the outer cover add better protection against scraping the wires bare while pulling them thrugh the conduit? So we did all that.
We are standing about midway in the shop one day when I see someone heading into our handi-cap bath. Thinking it is either a customer or sales person, I asked if we could help him. He rudely yells, Building Inspector! He has no clip board, no business card, and no Cobb patch on his shirt. He walks into the shop and sees the new conduit to the lift and an exhaust fan on the back wall (this was replaced to rewire the emergency exit light) and asks if they were inspected. He is out the door in less than five minutes from when he entered.
We failed. Our $50 inspection fee wasted in less than 5 minutes. So we call the landlord again as he knows an electrician who comes by that day and says it is done perfectly, it should not have been a problem. But he tells us a hint as to how he does it. He uses old conduit or paints it so it does not look new and they do not question it. Lesson learned. So we have to have the landlord, as he is the owner, pull a permit. In the meantime, the $200 fire dept. inspection takes place. The fire marshal comes in, looks at the emergency exit lights, the emergency spot lights and the fire extinguishers. He says we need 4 labeled 40BC, which we have brand new. He looks at one and questions its size; he cannot read the label as he did not bring his glasses so I point out the label where it states 40BC.
He passes us and is gone in 10 minutes. Now, our landlord is trying to get the building inspector to take another look and is almost successful. The man in charge of building inspections, Mr. Creed, holds us up for another $50 with the threat that we pay another $50 or he will make us start our application all over and pay all the fees again including the $200 fire inspection, which we have already passed. Is this even legal? So we pay him $50 and wait for our re- inspection.
Now, this part is hard to believe for us at least. We are sitting in the shop area about 30 feet from the front door on a Friday. At 6:30, Patty comes by to pick me up to go to the mountains. As I walk out the door, I notice a small round orange sticker on the back of our license application standing in the front window. Looking closer at it, it says we passed our building inspection. We were right by the only door he could have come in and never saw or heard him. The inspector never walked more than 3 feet inside the building and never said a word to us.
Yet, if we did not pay that additional $50, he would not have come out. There was never a proper inspection or re-inspection; it was just for the money. Cobb County makes all new businesses go thru this just for the money. If we move out next month, the property owner has to repeat this whole procedure with his next tenant. Why make it a six week process for a new business to open.
New businesses will pay taxes including school taxes while not having a student attend; hire employees who will pay taxes; eat in local restaurants; shop at local stores for supplies and parts in our case; and attract customers who will spend money in Cobb. If we did not have to spend about $500 getting everything from Cobb and spend so much time doing it, that money could have been spent with local businesses that would have spent some of it in Cobb and would have used it for payroll where their employees would spend the money.
It used to be 7 transactions and the government would have every dollar back. That $500 could have helped 7 businesses instead of feeding Cobb’s coffers. If we had known how difficult opening is in Cobb, I would have gone back to Villa Rica. But now we are open and we have our new address. Or do we. No, not yet. The county has us as 2140 Powell Wright Rd, Building C. The post office and UPS have us as 2140 canton Rd, Building C. Now the county (somehow under homeland security) says they will no longer allow buildings or suites be label alphabetically. They have to be labeled 100, 200, 300 for 911 accessibility. Can the fire dept. not find the building that is smoking?
But this is all mute. They, homeland security, says we must change our street address to Powell Wright Rd and the county is making us change our number to 914. So, sometimes in the near future, we will become 914 Powell Wright Rd. building 200. How long before our mail will find us or UPS deliveries. This is just another waste of time and money Cobb is making businesses go thru.
You can still call me with any questions or problems and I will be happy to help. My old number is still good; 770-689-7573 and we have a new number 678-355-0877. Getting this is another story for another day. Comcast promised us we could get their service by September 26th! We chose another carrier. See yall soon somewhere. Barry
PS Next month I will get back to tech subjects so send me any ideas you have on what you would like to see. Barry@britishcarservicega.com.