Supervisor Wants Codes Refund
Published: November 16th, 2006
By: Melissa deCordova

NORWICH – In a dispute over re-roofing permit fees, Town of Norwich Supervisor David C. Law threatened Wednesday to hire a code enforcement officer for his town instead of using Chenango County’s codes department.

Waving a handful of building permits representing thousands of dollars that he has signed this year, including for such hefty projects as the Wal-Mart Superstore and Lowe’s, Law said his town board and constituents take issue with the particular $25 fee because it is not part of the county’s 1988 Local Codes Law. He made a motion at a meeting of the Safety & Rules Committee Wednesday to refund the fee that was “unlawfully” charged to 13 of the town’s taxpayers.

“That sounds like a threat,” Committee Chairman Alton B. Doyle, R-Guilford, said.

Law said his town board is “adamant” about the issue and people who need to “be refunded now.”

“If that is not in effect, we will drop out of Chenango County Code Enforcement and have our own or go in with Greene. We don’t approve of all these codes. The next thing you’ll hear is you are going to have to have a permit to paint your house.”

Law’s complaint stems from a discrepancy between the 1988 law and a revised fee schedule that was approved by the Chenango County Board of Supervisors in 2004. The fee for non-structural roof replacement was included in the schedule to comply with the federal government’s International Codes Law. New York State recommended adopting the measure back in 2003.

The matter, which Law brought to the attention of lawmakers last month, had been referred to County Attorney Richard E. Breslin for advice in the interim. In a Nov. 14 statement issued to Public Health Director Marcus Flindt, Breslin said a 2007 Local Law for codes needs to be adopted in January, but county leaders have the option of exempting re-roofing if no new structure is involved.

“We can refund people on this issue, but it is ultimately up to this committee and the board to decide what obligation we have,” Flindt said. “We administer the policies that you set.”

Chenango County Code Enforcement Officer Bruce Bates argued last month that the county couldn’t be less stringent than state code regulations that call for a permit when re-roofing. “It’s the cheapest fee that we have. It saves the homeowner headaches down the road. Roofing is one of the biggest areas of fraud to the homeowner. Contractors have weaseled through crappy jobs,” he said.

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