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A building permit is required for any new construction, demolition, construction of room addition, alteration, basement or bathroom finish, adding a garage, carport, deck, sunroom, shed, play house over thirty-two (32) s.f., and swimming pools. A completed Building Permit Application as well as site plans and other requested materials stated in the Guidelines must be submitted to the City of Columbia Clerk’s Office to begin the approval process. Click here for applications
It depends on the zoning districts which your house is located. Please call the Building Permit Office (618 / 281-7144 ext. 105) for specific setback requirements.
Yes, if requirements are met, however you must have a permit. Small yard sheds must be placed on a slab, concrete piers or a permanent foundation. The shed placement must meet setback requirements. Please note, city approval does not constitute subdivision approval. The city recommends you contact trustees in your subdivision for any subdivision requirements.
Yes, because bedrooms have a requirement for emergency access. Firemen have to able to get into the bedroom from the outside. Therefore, the window must be a certain size. The permit process allows us to insure all requirements are met.
No, however your roofer must be licensed with the State of Illinois.
A Special Use Permit allows developments listed in the Official Zoning Ordinance which have been designated “Special Uses” within particular districts. These may be uses of public benefit or service uses which, although generally considered desirable or compatible with other uses, permitted as-of-right in the zoning district in which they are located, require special use review. This review is performed by the Columbia Planning Commission at their regularly scheduled meeting, at a public hearing before the Commission. Click here for applications
The purpose of a variance is to provide relief to a property owner when strict adherence to the regulations of the Zoning Ordinance would impose an unreasonable hardship. Variations are granted only to provide relief in unusual situations which are not intended or foreseen when the Zoning Ordinance was adopted. Applicants will need to complete a Request for Variance Application and submit to the City Clerk’s Office. Click here for applications
To request a zoning change for your property you must complete a “Request for Zoning Amendment” application and submit to the City Clerk’s Office. Click here for applications
You do not need an inspection for re-connecting a sink after just simply replacing your counter tops.
If you are going to install an above ground pool you will need to complete a building permit and if you are going to need to have electrical work done for the pool you will also need to list an Electrical Contractor. Click here for electrical contractors registered with the City of Columbia. For the pool permit application click here.
Fence requirements for pools are as follows:
You can download a fence application here.
You will need a Home Occupation Permit if you live within the City limits and work from home. You can find the Home Occupation permit here.
If you are not installing any wall for the porch and just attaching to the current structure you do not need a permit to install a screened in porch.
If you are purchasing a house in Columbia you need to make sure the following things are done.
You can fill out paperwork online, a lot of our forms are fillable PDF’s which means you can just type your information online and print or email the form to us. You may pay online with a credit card (look for the online payments icon on our homepage) or stop by the Clerk's office in person to pay with cash, check or credit card.
You will need a building permit and it will need to be inspected. Fill out the Building Permit as specified and if there is anything else that needs done we will get with you.
If the adjacent grade is 30” or more you will need to install rails.
Normally, unless you are in a flood plain you do not need a permit for this. Just make sure you stay away from the drainage easement on your property.
If you are within 200 feet of a sewer line the City does require that you connect to it and there will be the additional costs to consider when purchasing the property.
The City follows the same energy code as the state of Illinois.
Yes, you still need to apply for a fence permit.
If you are taking down beams and structural elements then you will need a building permit, if you are just replacing parts then you will not need a building permit.
You can find the cost information for a building permit in our municipal code.
The maximum fence height is 6ft tall.
Inspections are good for one year. Property owners, who have previously received a Certificate of Compliance, wishing to sell a dwelling under five years old, will not need an inspection. However, it will still be the new owner’s/occupant’s responsibility to obtain an Occupancy Permit from City Hall.
Inspection fees are included in the Building Permit fee for newly constructed dwellings. Inspections must be scheduled with the Building Permit Office at appropriate times throughout the building process. The Occupancy Permit fee is also included in the Building Permit fee if occupancy immediately follows the issuance of Certificate of Compliance approval.
Inspections are done on Mondays from 9 am to 3 pm and Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 am to 2 pm for all residential occupancy permits.
There are a few different ways you can schedule and pay for your inspection:
We will not schedule your inspection until the form has been completed and payment has been made.
Once your inspection has been completed it will take 3 to 5 days to get the results of the inspection. If the property passed the inspection you will receive a Certificate of Compliance if the inspection did not pass you will receive an Inspection Report outlining the items that will need to be completed prior to issuance of Certificate of Compliance.
Yes, the home owner or owner’s representative needs to be present for the inspection.
The seller (property owner) or seller’s representative needs to apply for the inspection.
All three tones can be heard via the 3 following links:
One of the components of an effective warning system is to have distinct and easily recognized tones (sirens) for each type of event. It was decided to keep the standard "alert" tone for tornado warnings. Working with the Columbia Fire Department, the "wail" tone was chosen for fire calls since it closely resembles an emergency response siren. The remaining tone, the Noon and 6 p.m. tone, is sounded out of tradition. Once used to alert farmers in the field of dinner (lunch time) and supper time, these tones needed to be distinctly different from the other two.
With the increased coverage area, it was decided a more subtle tone should be used. As a result, the church bells (Westminster Chimes) were selected.
Yes. All new and replacement fences must meet the requirements of the Columbia City Code, primarily contained in Ordinance No. 2076. The maximum height of a fence is 6 feet, and you must be able to maintain both sides of the fence on your own property. A Fence Permit Application and site plan indicating the location of fence, relative to street frontage and other structures on property must be submitted to the City Clerk’s Office. Please note, city approval does not constitute subdivision approval. The city recommends you contact trustees in your subdivision for any subdivision requirements
Yes, you still need to apply for a fence permit.
There are 1,300 municipal corporations (cities, towns, and villages) in the State of Illinois. Eighty-three percent of those entities are organized and existing in accordance with an arcane concept dating back to the 1800s known as “Dillon’s Rule.” These 1,080 municipalities derive their powers and rights wholly from the State of Illinois General Assembly. Simply, these non-home rule units of local government may only exercise powers for which express authority is granted by state law. From circuit courts to the Illinois Supreme Court, a number of rulings have held there are NO inherent rights or powers at the local level of government except those explicitly given by the state. The City of Columbia is currently a non-home rule unit of local government.
The 1970 Illinois Constitution established a second “status” of municipal government: Home Rule. For the 220 home rule communities in Illinois, Article VII, Section 6(a) of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 provides:
"except as limited by this Section, a home rule unit may exercise any power and perform any function pertaining to its government and affairs including, but not limited to, the power to regulate for the protection of public health, safety, morals and welfare; to license; to tax; and to incur debt.”
These home-rule communities are able to exercise any power and perform any function unless expressly prohibited by state law.
The City of Columbia is governed by an 8-member City Council, comprised of 2 representatives elected to staggered, 4-year terms from each of the City’s 4 Wards. The City Council is led by a Mayor elected “at-large” (or from anywhere within the City) to a 4-year term of office. The Mayor and City Council serve at the level of government most responsive (and accountable) to residents. However, as noted above, Columbia is classified as a “Non-Home Rule” unit of local government. This means the State Legislature in Springfield, NOT local elected officials, have the greatest impact on governing Columbia. Non-Home Rule cities are subject to ALL State legislation and mandates (including those carrying certain costs to implement/enforce, with no offsetting funds from the State). Furthermore, the Mayor and City Council are only able to exercise powers explicitly permitted by the Illinois Compiled Statutes (Illinois State Law).
Home Rule communities may be more flexible in finding local solutions to local issues and are not as burdened by state-imposed mandates and regulations. This means the individuals Columbians elect to fill the Offices of Mayor and Aldermen assume actual responsibility for City government.
Home rule status can be achieved in one of two ways: (1) a municipality automatically achieves home rule status when its population exceeds 25,000 residents. If the municipality’s population drops below this threshold, it continues to be home rule, but the municipal clerk is required to certify a question of retaining home rule authority for submission to the voters at the next general election; and (2) communities with fewer than 25,001 residents can become home rule by passing a local referendum.
The City of Columbia has been fortunate to secure funding through grants for a number of capital projects in recent years, including Main Street Streetscape (Phases 2 & 3), the Bolm-Schuhkraft Connector Trail, and Quarry Road Phase 1 and Phase 2- which included the roundabout. In fact, since 2015, more than $9.7 million has been spent improving infrastructure throughout the City. Of that amount, $5,475,500 or 56% has been paid through grants. Between 2023-25, there are an additional 8 infrastructure projects programmed, totaling $5,541,000. Of this amount, the City has already secured $2,559,000 in funding through grants, and has applied for an additional $1 million through State programs.
Grants are becoming more competitive in nature, and there is no guarantee alternative funding of this nature will always be available for future projects.
Additionally, there are community needs beyond infrastructure detailed above:
While the City's utility needs may be addressed through user rate increases, when compared to 43 other municipal water/sewer utilities in Southern Illinois, an April 2022 study found Columbia's rates are, on average, 11.89% lower than comparable entities. The City Council intends to minimize any cost increases on Columbia's property owners.
As demonstrated through its actions, the City Council strives to be fiscally responsible stewards of public tax dollars. However, the uncertainty of the long-term availability of grants, as well as the magnitude of projects on the horizon pose significant management challenges. Home rule enables the City to access additional revenue streams not solely derived from residents and property owners.
In the Metro St. Louis area, Home Rule units include:
Other initiatives enacted by home rule communities include:
Opponents to home rule cite many of the advantages as disadvantages. Typically, home rule municipalities have broad taxing and regulation authority, including the ability to increase property taxes without a referendum, to issue an unlimited amount of debt, to create new taxes and fees, and to regulate property.
The ability to increase property taxes without a referendum. The City of Columbia already has this authority. While many non-home rule municipalities are subject to the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) which limits the ability to increase property taxes beyond 5% or the increase in the consumer price index (whichever is less), the City of Columbia is not subject to this as it is situated in multiple counties. Even with this ability, the City’s property tax rate has decreased 5 of the previous 6 years.
To issue an unlimited amount of debt. The City is subject to a “debt cap” of 8.625% of the value of the taxable property within the City. Based Tax Year 2021, this amount is $28,947,708. This statutory cap does not apply to those instruments (or bonds) issued with an alternate revenue source pledged for repayment (other than property taxes). The City’s Series 2015, and Series 2020 Bonds (the only active bonds issued by the City) both fall into the latter category, and are not counted toward the City’s debt limit.
Furthermore, while home rule communities are not subject to the debt cap, and may exceed 20-year limit on indebtedness instruments, home rule municipalities must maintain appropriate debt limits in order to preserve bond ratings, and retain an economic position favorable to prospective bond buyers.
To create new taxes and fees. The City currently must seek voter approval to impose a non-home rule sales tax (in 0.25% increments, up to 1%). However, the City is able to impose any fee directly related to offsetting costs of administering various programs and/or licenses.
To regulate property. Non-home rule municipalities are currently able to implement inspection programs triggered by change of occupancy, and other situations. Columbia has already implemented such processes, and has the current authority to adopt any building/property maintenance codes felt appropriate.
Other questions concerning home rule vs. non-home rule pertain to the intended “tax base” of home rule tax – specifically food and beverage taxes. While a claim that “Columbia residents may save on property taxes, but will pay at restaurants instead” is somewhat accurate (residents of Columbia are subject to taxes imposed on restaurant/bar patrons, same as non-residents), from December 2021 through November 2022, only 19.17% of visitors to all Columbia restaurants were residents of Columbia. For all commercial properties in Columbia, 66.23% of visitors reside outside of Columbia.
Residents oversee the use of home rule through the normal election process. Every two years half of the aldermen are elected and every four years the Mayor is elected. Just as the City Council may introduce a resolution asking voters if Columbia should become a home rule government, a resolution may be introduced asking voters if Columbia should cease to be a home rule government.
Additionally, participation in City Council meetings is another forum in which to exercise oversight. Citizens have the right at every meeting to address the governing body.
In advance of the April 4th election, the City Council is contemplating imposing controls on this Council (and future Councils) covering the following areas:
Finally, voters can file a petition to rescind Home Rule by referendum.
Yes, the home owner or owner's representative needs to be present for the inspection.
The seller(property owner) or seller's representative needs to apply for the inspection.
Visit our website https://www.columbiaillinois.com/9/Municipal-Code. You can find the sign in our municipal code under, Title 15 Buildings and Construction > Chapter 15.44 Sign Code.
It is very important you review our sign code and ensure you have everything completed properly, not having a clear understanding of the City’s sign code restrictions can delay the permit process.
You can review your property by going to https://monroecountyil.maps.arcgis.com/home/index.html and choosing the Parcel Viewer, you can put in address and use provided information as a reference for creating your site. Other areas of reference could be the following:
Yes, you can reference section 15.44.190 of the sign code.
Minimum fee is $55.00 for a sign permit (sign 40 s.f. or less). There is an additional $2.35 fee per s.f. if the sign is over 40 s.f.
Please note, temporary banners are allowed to be displayed fourteen (14) days prior to the event, and must be taken down within three (3) days after the event. Total size of banner must not exceed 16 s.f. There is a $5.50 fee for a temporary banner; no fee for non-profit groups. NOTE: Banners are NOT permitted on City property or right-of-way, including the corner of N. Main & Route 3 (near gas station) or at the corner of S. Main & Route 3 (near old school house) and shall only be permitted on private property.
You will need a sign inspection for wall, projecting, free standing, monument and electronic message board signs. There are additional charges for inspections for you sign. See chart below for more information. Please call the phone numbers listed to schedule the inspections. Project Manager and/or Building Permit Holder will be required to be at every inspection listed below.
A boil order is a public notification to customers notifying them to boil tap water before consuming it. Boil orders are issued when:
The quickest way to be notified of a boil order is to sign up on "CodeRed." Notification will be posted on the electronic message board located at the corner of Route 3 and Sand Bank Road, and two portable electronic messages boards will be placed in high-traffic areas. Depending on the time of day, notification will also be listed on the home page of this website and the City’s Facebook page.
Do not drink the water without boiling it first. Bring water to a rolling boil, let it boil for five minutes, and cool before using; or use bottled water for drinking, making ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth and preparing food until you are notified that the boil order has been lifted
According to the Illinois EPA guidelines, water samples must be collected to test for bacteria in the distribution system. Water Quality samples are taken on the day when the issue (main break, etc.) has been corrected and then incubated 18 to 24 hours, as required by the EPA. Only after this period of time can test results be read. From beginning to end, this process to lift a boil order can take a couple of days to complete.
Once lifted, flush household pipes, ice makers, water fountains, etc. prior to using for drinking or cooking. Follow these guidelines for flushing:
Our water is safe to drink and meets the standards set by both the federal and state Environmental Protection Agencies.
Many taste and odor calls are due to the chlorine which is added to the water to kill or prevent the growth of microorganisms. Others are due to tastes and odors in the river which are not removed by the plant and which only a few people can detect.
Certain times of the year when there is less rainfall, the hardness in the water is higher because there has been no rainfall to dilute the minerals in the river. This hardness can settle out in the plumbing in the form of a white or tan residue. Hardness is calcium carbonate and is a substance that is beneficial to the human body. Deposits can be removed with vinegar or a water softener can be installed to remove the calcium carbonate. A high hardness content can sometimes form an oily appearing film on the top of the water.
If the white clears from the bottom up, it is due to excess air in the water. When the cold water comes into a warm room, the air in the water rises to the top. Sometimes it can actually look like milk. This occurs frequently in the winter months.
Humidity loving molds or fungi in the air may grow on shower heads, in shower stalls or in the back of toilets. The growth is typically seen at the interface of moisture and air.
Sometimes rubber gaskets or other plumbing parts in appliances or toilets can break down and need replaced.
There is an airborne bacteria that grows in humid conditions that are pink color. Cleaning with a chlorine solution would help.
Red residue or color in the water is usually caused by the corrosion of galvanized lines in the house, the service line or the distribution system.
This can occur when small particles, which have settled out of the water into the main over a period of time, have been stirred up after a hydrant flushing or a fire.
This is a personal choice as there are pros and cons to using hard or soft water. Home softened water is higher in sodium, more likely to corrode pipes, is additional expense, required periodic equipment maintenance and lacks natural calcium and minerals. However, it can save soap and will not result in hardness deposits. Hard water can dry the skin, can build up a residue in the pipes over time, and requires more detergent, but it contains calcium and magnesium minerals.
Sometimes sulfur bacteria can grow in hot water heaters. If this happens, flush the system well with chlorinated water.
This may be an indication that your copper piping is corroding. This is more likely to occur if your water is softened or if there is improper electrical grounding.