LANE COUNTY, Ore. -- The road to replacing homes damaged and lost to the wildfires will be a long one, and many are concerned that getting the permit to do so will take too long.
Many community members are eager to rush back and see what remains of their homes and businesses to figure out what happens next.
Tom Walter is the president of the Home Builders Association of Lane County and the owner of Walter Custom Homes.
“My first fear was that, in the county right now, we have a hard time doing anything,” Walter said. “You take an environment where we can’t build the houses right now that we need to build, and we have a housing shortage countywide. How are we going to build another 400 houses in the last three years to replace what's happened from this fire? I have no idea.”
Walter said that there are many steps to obtaining a permit, and you need to have a team of professionals such as engineers, truss manufacturers and builders to make an application to the county. He said that can take months to get approved.
“We have hundreds of houses that need to be replaced,” Walter said. “In other communities that have had wildfires, it is a long process of replacing those houses. We have to work in partnership with our agencies. Lane County has to work with home builders, so we can help people.”
He said that the wildfires have impacted those he knows in so many different ways.
“My heart goes out to everybody who's been affected,” Walter said.
Nick Skelton is the Vice President for Markus-Thompson Construction Inc., a Lane County contractor.
“I've already got a number of phone calls from people who are finding out what they are going to be able to do,” Skelton said. “We are going to start doing some cleanup for some prior customers and some new customers and start on getting new plans submitted.”
Skelton said that his team has been busy working with customers, finding new designs and figuring out what clients need to do to submit permits for their new homes.
“That's one thing we are concerned about is how we are going to get 450 houses built with the building department taking a long time to review plans,” Skelton said. “We’re hoping Lane County speeds up the process. We don't even know yet what they're going to do to help us out, but we're hoping they'll speed it up."
Skelton said that another focus is on hiring new people to be as prepared as possible when the rebuilding process begins.
‘We’re hoping to get people back on their property and back into their homes and new homes if necessary,” Skelton said.
Lane County officials said that any change to the permit process will need to be discussed by the Board of Commissioners as they continue on with fire response.