Building department fees under review in North East


NORTH EAST — The Town Board learned about building department fees at its workshop meeting held Thursday, Nov. 5, as Building Inspector Ken McLaughlin appeared to discuss the topic.

According to town Supervisor Dave Sherman, the fee schedule had to be addressed per orders of the Department of State, which is requiring that municipalities provide specific types of permits to the public.

To get a sense of the various types of permits, as well as the appropriate fees to go along with them, the town of North East reviewed researched information from neighboring towns, like Amenia.

"We’re going for a flat schedule with certain types of projects running in the town’s schedule," McLaughlin said. "We want to make sure the fee is appropriate for the type of work. Now we have a lot of mechanical things — a whole host of things — that have to get more specific [i.e. swimming pools, tennis courts, etc.]."

"Things do get a little more elaborate," Sherman said.

The building inspector went on to explain that some of those mechanical permits include building permits, operating permits, etc.

"The state really pushes you into certifying for a whole host of reasons. This is just to start out of the blocks," McLaughlin said. "And anything that is not occupied gets a certificate of occupancy."

"If I had my cellar done and had to get the pipes fixed, would I have to get a permit?" asked town Councilman Dave McGhee.

"It depends on what you get done," McLaughlin said. "A simple fix, no."

"People can’t calculate their own fee and we should put in place a fee schedule that is out of the box," McLaughlin said. "But if the board would like to simplify it more, that’s fine."

The building inspector said the genesis of the fee schedule was building department secretary Lisa Cope, who was frequently calling him with questions of what fees to charge residents for certain permits. From there he compared the town’s current fee schedule to what’s being charged elsewhere.

The board asked him some specifics, like if window replacements would require a permit. The answer was that it would depend on whether the whole header was being replaced (in which case it’s considered a structural/mechanical change and a permit would be required) or if just the window is being changed (in which case it’s considered maintenance and no permit is needed).

McLaughlin also pointed out to the board that he was presenting the fee schedule, and not the building manual, which can be found at Town Hall in the building department.

"I just hope people don’t start making conclusions on what they need to do [as far as obtaining permits] from the fee schedule," Sherman said.

The rest of the board did not share his concern; the members and McLaughlin all agreed it would be clear enough that the necessary permits are listed in the building manual.

The town supervisor then asked the building inspector what his intentions were.

"I want to be present at the organization meeting so the fees can be adopted," he said. "I welcome your comments in the meantime."

Attorney to the Town Warren Replansky then warned the fees charged have to be commensurate with what is charged for the permits. He said they should also be consistent with other municipalities’ fees. He also suggested that if applicants don’t subscribe to the town’s permit requirements, the permit fees could be double.

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