Review of proposed Jay building ordinance draws questions

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JAY — Selectmen have requested more information so they can answer concerns from townspeople about a proposed new building and energy code. 

Towns with 4,000 or more residents are required by the state to adopt the code.

The board reviewed the draft administration portion of the building ordinance on Monday.

“The state has proposed the building code,” Town Manager Ruth Cushman said. “What we are proposing is the administration part.”

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If the town doesn’t adopt rules to administer, the state will impose its own, she said.

The Maine Legislature adopted the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code, which will go into effect in Jay on July 1, regardless of whether voters approve the proposed administrative ordinance, Code Enforcement Officer Shiloh LaFreniere said.

“So we can’t change the building ordinance,” she said. “But the piece the town has a say in is the administrative part.”

The draft ordinance proposes building permits, third-party inspections and occupancy permits, among other things, for new buildings and for renovations to existing buildings.

Building permits would be required, per the state code. No permit would be issued by the code enforcement officer until the applicant submitted a completed application certifying a contractual arrangement between a third-party inspector and the building owner, according to the draft ordinance.

The options on inspectors were that the town do the inspections, the town hire a third-party inspector or the homeowner hire a third-party inspector, LaFreniere said.

What was chosen to put in the draft ordinance would require the homeowner to hire the inspector, she said.

The proposed administrative portion leaves the town with the least amount of involvement and liability, she said.

The homeowner would be required to get a building permit, and before an occupancy permit is issued for that property, the homeowner would have to give the town a copy of a certified inspection report to show all codes were followed, LaFreniere said.

“If I put an addition on my home, I have to hire a building inspector?” resident Cindy Bennett asked.

“Yes,” Cushman said.

The town saw eight new building projects last year, she said. If the building code was in effect then, those eight people would have hired their own inspectors instead of the taxpayers paying for an inspector, Cushman said.

“We already have a code enforcement officer paid by the taxpayers,” resident James Butler Jr. said.

He asked why she couldn’t do the inspections.

“We thought it would be best that the town have the least amount of involvement,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Steve McCourt said.

Butler said he was one of three independent inspectors in Franklin County and he and the others could charge what they wanted to charge.

He said he would be upset if he had to hire an inspector and pay their designated price.

“I think you guys should be heavily involved in this and the town should do inspections, then you would have control,” Butler said.

Selectman Tim DeMillo said he didn’t understand why a town that had 4,000 residents had to comply with the ordinance and another town that had 3,999 residents didn’t.

Towns with building ordinances, even if they had smaller populations, already were required to administer the uniform code.

Resident Mike Schaedler asked whether he would need a permit and would have to hire an inspector if he put a new roof on his house.

If it were a new structure, you would, LaFreniere said. If it were a repair, he wouldn’t, unless he added to the roof structure, she said.

Selectmen directed her to get more information on the code itself so they could answer questions about what would require a permit. She will also do a comparison between what the town is proposing for administrative rules and what the state would impose, and present it at the next selectmen meeting.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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