City of Northfield’s Building Official, John Brookins, departs

inspection-page-sshot John Brookins, head of the City of Northfield’s Building Inspection Division and the City’s Building Official, no longer works for the City. Although his name is still listed on that web page, I’ve confirmed with Mayor Rossing that his last day was Friday, May 22. Although the City probably won’t be commenting on the reason for his departure, it appears to have been sudden since Brookins had an update in the 5/22 Friday Memo. Brookins’ tenure has seen controversy. See blog posts here or here, or any number of stories on the Northfield News site, for example, here.


  1. Griff Wigley said:

    I got this in an email from City Administrator Joel Walinski:

    After careful consideration and review of current positions within the Building-Inspection Division and an analysis of projected permit activity and the necessary budgetary reductions, it has been determined to reduce the staffing level in the Division. Mr. John Brookins was placed on layoff status effective May 22, 2009.

    May 26, 2009
  2. norman butler said:

    One of three moves could happen next:
    1. A new BO is appointed from outside.
    2. One of our current Inspectors is promoted.
    3. Plan review is subcontracted out.
    If 1.or 2., then the Building Code Board of Appeals needs to be involved (at least) to try to ensure that the new BO understands the particular importance of our downtown buildings to our community and that rehabilitation is both desirable and possible without compromising safety and utility. Ideally, the new BO will be positively passionate about old buildings and supportive of the valiant efforts of our downtown building owners.

    May 29, 2009
  3. Patrick Enders said:

    Amen. Well said, Norman.

    May 29, 2009
  4. john george said:

    Norm- Be really careful with common sense. It can be addicting.

    May 29, 2009
  5. kiffi summa said:

    Norm: Obviously you are correct in your outline for process, but there are a couple of issues hanging out there…
    1.The Council sets policy.
    2.The staff has to follow the policy the Council sets.
    3.The Council did NOT require the former building official to follow a policy they set ( i.e. “that rehabilitation is both desirable and possible without compromising safety and utility” … very good phrasing by the way) regardless of the many complaints directly to council and senior staff.
    4. As a matter of fact, the three returning Councilors when receiving complaints, often defended the building official without discussing the merit of the complaint
    5. If the current inspector, who was under the BO is appointed to replace, then I think things will be OK
    6. And this is the “kicker”… Mr. Brookins was appointed to the State Board of Appeals; what do you think will happen with Northfield appeals going to that level?

    Norm: Please answer #6…

    May 30, 2009
  6. norman butler said:

    Kiffi: The Building Code does not require appeals be referred to the State if they can be resolved at the local level. If such appeals are referred to the State they are done so by the our local Building Code Board of Appeals, not the local BO. I imagine very few appeals will be so referred since we are all terribly reasonable people looking for a best solution and intelligent enough to reach one.

    May 30, 2009
  7. Griff Wigley said:

    In the Sat. Nfld News: City layoff is first cut to public services.

    Near the end of 2008, the city
    eliminated 3 positions and laid off 7
    employees. Brookins’ departure is the
    first of what will be increasingly
    “high profile” cuts, Walinski said.

    June 1, 2009

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