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New subdivision regs for county?

Changes to the county subdivision regulations could mean big changes for developers and building contractors.

During last week’s Lafayette County Planning Commission meeting, building inspector Joel Hollowell introduced new regulations that he would like to see approved and implemented by the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors.

The proposed changes to the subdivision regulations include:

*county issued trade licenses for contractors

*county issued trade permits

*county issued commercial building permit fees

*burning in the county

*construction working hours

There would be a grandfather clause for those contractors who have been doing business in Lafayette County for a long period of time. And contractors who can provide a license from another county or city would be acceptable.

“These changes would help us do our job better and create a more fair system in the way we are going about doing business,” Hollowell said. “Keep in mind this only pertains to subdivisions.”

Contractor J.W. McCurdy spoke up with concerns over the trade license.

“What’s wrong with the way we are doing it now where everything falls under the contractor’s license?” he asked the commission.

“Y’all are doing permits and inspections already, what’s wrong with keeping it the way it is and letting it fall under the building permit?”

Hollowell explained that some of the contract work is actually done by sub-contractors who may not be licensed. He gave an example.

“We go on a lot of jobs where this electrical company is supposed to be the one’s doing the work, but you’ve got a guy there claiming to be a representative of them and you have no idea who did the actual work,” Hollowell said. “So it’s a way of making these guys be more accountable.”

McCurdy said he understands rules are necessary but every time rules like this are made they slow the process and it drives the building cost up.

“In reality it drives the price of the project up and then we have houses that people can’t afford in Oxford,” McCurdy said.

He added that the contractor should be the one responsible and stand by their work.

“If a homeowner has a pipe burst, they’re not going to call my plumber. They’re going to call me at 2 o’clock in the morning,” McCurdy said.

Commissioner TJ Ray asked Hollowell how often has he failed an inspection on a building project.

“Several times a week,” Hollowell said. “We think this is going to lessen the number of failures.”

Ray asked Hollowell to find out what other counties in the vicinity are doing when they made similar changes before going forward.

Commercial permits

Commercial building permit fees that have been in place for just over a year have a wide gap, according to Hollowell. Currently, there is a base fee of $150 and then 40-cents per square foot for everything that is under roof.

For example, an ice machine that was 200 square feet and valued at $75,000 had a permit fee of $230, but a local business that expanded 4,500 square feet for storage space that required very little inspection had a permit fee of $1,950. Under the proposed valuation system, the fee for that same warehouse would have been $440.

Burning

Current burning regulations for land clearing are confusing, according to Hollowell.

He’s proposing that any development required by MDEQ to use a forced air blowing system be required to get a county permit.

Working hours

Work would begin at 7 a.m. and end at 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. until 7 p.m.

Hollowell said special exemptions would be looked at on an individual basis.

Commissioner Ray Garrett would like for the regulation to include not allowing work on Sunday.

Wastewater

Hollowell would also like to create a county-wide wastewater ordinance.

The county subdivision regulations have a wastewater regulation already in place and Hollowell wants to expand that to a county-wide ordinance.

“We have a lot of trouble out in the county with raw sewage being just run down a hill, run into a ditch or failed systems that are creating a health hazard,” Hollowell said.

Before any of these changes can be made, a public hearing would have to be held.

The commission recommended to supervisors  the commercial building permit fees, burning regulations and wastewater, and hold the trade licensing, trade permits and working hours to be researched more.