Roxbury boards discuss changes to building permit application

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ROXBURY — Three selectmen, two Planning Board members and Code Enforcement Officer Robert Folsom Sr. held a workshop Tuesday evening to clarify the building permit application process.

They are also trying to determine what changes need to be made to take care of erosion concerns and have Folsom inspect more new building construction to ensure it is being done correctly.

Planning Board member Ron Dube told both boards that they are also trying to simplify permits and determine how often to use Folsom.

Board of Selectmen Chairman John Sutton said the town has only used half its budget for Folsom’s work to date. But Selectman Tim Derouche said selectmen will have to watch that budget going forward, especially if the Planning Board offers Folsom more work.

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Dube said he and Planning Board members Mike Mills and Cathy Mattson will be working to better fill in record-keeping details so they will know what people have built or added to their lots. Dube said he’s also found errors made by the town assessor, but Sutton said he believes that information was derived from meeting with people.

Both boards tasked Folsom with checking with Main-Land Development Consultants for permitting records, such as for waste system installations, to learn what’s been installed in Roxbury and getting copies of permits-by-rule, which are done at the state level.

“We’re trying to chase down older installations,” Dube said.

Sutton said it’s incumbent on the Planning Board to keep permit records up-to-date with correct information.

“A lot of times, permit-by-rule doesn’t show up (in town records) because they only deal with the state on that,” Dube said. “It depends what they’re doing with their property and whether they need it or not.”

He said the Planning Board also needs clarification on certain fees, such as for different foundations. Sutton said some fees are added to offset the code enforcement officer’s costs.

He also wants to curb construction of certain outbuilding sizes that he believes are being abused to skirt town code.

“I want to put some restraints on 10- by 10-foot buildings,” Dube said. “Right now, if it’s less than 100 square feet, you don’t need a permit, and we’d like to get away from that.”

Dube said some people will build a 10- by 10-foot building, remove a wall, add another such building next to it, also removing a wall and construct a third building beside the second, removing another wall, eventually ending up with a 10- by 30-foot building that they didn’t need to get a permit for.

“If it doesn’t exceed 30 percent of his lot, what do we care?” Selectman Sutton asked.

Dube said the Planning Board doesn’t have any control over “these little structures.”

Sutton said he believes a permit should be required for any buildings.

Folsom also advised both boards that some Maine landowners are plunking down shipping containers that come with living rooms and art studios. He asked how that would be regulated in Roxbury and suggested that the town adopt a building code.

“We don’t inspect modular homes because that is done in the factory, but we do inspect foundations,” Folsom said.

He also cited poor building construction by people who don’t separate garages from homes or don’t insulate foundation slabs for frost.

The Planning Board is also working to create a checklist of what is required in the Shoreland Zone.

When completed, the checklist will be attached to permit applications, as will a list of suggested erosion-control measures, where required. The Planning Board will add a permit-by-rule document to the application, and a copy will be provided to the code enforcement officer so he can inspect the work to determine if effective soil control measures are in place and working.

Eventually, talk shifted to possibly requiring a Certificate of Occupancy before allowing people to live in new buildings, but Folsom said the town would be better served by requiring a Certificate of Compliance, since Roxbury doesn’t have a building code.

“Roxbury has a Certificate of Occupancy that’s based on a code it doesn’t have?” Dube asked.

Folsom suggested that both boards review the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code to determine if Roxbury should adopt part or all of it.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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