JAY — Selectman Tim DeMillo updated the board Monday night on his visit with Gov. Paul LePage's aide about town officials' dislike of the ramifications of the state's Uniform Building and Energy Code.
On July 1, towns with 4,000 or more residents were charged with overseeing the implementation of the state's building code that has been around for a couple of years. Towns that already had a building code, regardless of size, were affected by the code in 2010.
Jay residents voted down an administrative ordinance on June 12 to oversee the code at the town level. It would have forced the town to have an on-call building inspector to do residential structures and repairs, and implemented a clause that required commercial entities to hire a third-party inspector, with some exceptions.
It also would have established town oversight of a building permit system, which would include issuing occupancy permits.
Now with no help from the state, the town is facing enforcing the code with no budget. Residents are faced with hiring third-party inspectors to inspect their structures.
The law has already pushed one family out of a building in town. The family chose neighboring Chesterville that does not have to enforce the code because it has fewer than 4,000 residents.
The code went into effect two years ago and because the town has 4,000 residents it is now supposed to enforce it and pay for it, DeMillo said during a selectmen's meeting.
“I'm not saying we should not have the code,” DeMillo said, it is just adding another level of bureaucracy that the town doesn't need.
Voters suspended portions of the towns Environmental Control and Improvement Ordinance in 2010 that dealt with industries because it mirrored the state and federal laws, he said.
One of the problems with the code is it was set up mostly for residential areas and nursing homes and doesn't address large businesses such as a paper mill.
DeMillo said they told LePage aide John Butero earlier Monday that there is a lot of concern out there and it will cause undo hardship for residents and businesses in the town that has an aging and shrinking population.
Town Manager Ruth Cushman said she pointed out that the state doesn't like the “feds” telling it what to do. Well the town doesn't like the state telling it what to do, she said.
She told him that “Maine has been founded on local control and you are taking it away more and more,” she said.
Butero said he understood the town's concerns. He requested dates of when voters rejected building-related ordinances. At one time in the 1990s, one ordinance proposed it would have required a permit for a birdhouse to be built.
Resident Bill Calden thanked selectmen and Cushman for going to Augusta to talk about the building code.