Board of Appeals: J&J Wholesalers is in violation

Published 10:21 am Friday, June 30, 2017

J&J Wholesalers had their appeal of the case against them for not having a certificate of occupancy heard before the newly formed Lafayette County Building Code Board of Appeals for a building on Highway 7.

In order to receive a certificate of occupancy from County Building Inspector Joel Hollowell, a site plan must be filed, as well as building permit issued, neither of which were ever applied for and is a violation of the International Building Codes the county adopted in 2012.

Hollowell explained that the proper process is for a site plan to be filed, followed by a building permit and then an inspection is completed before the certificate of occupancy can be issued.

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The issue before the appeal board was whether the IBC applied to the 8,000 square foot building Ryan Jones constructed. Jones claims the building is a residential building since his family lives in a portion of the structure.

Attorney Keith Pearson said his client has applied for a site plan, which is currently before the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors.

“We’ve done everything they’ve asked, so I don’t know why we have not been issued a certificate of occupancy,” Pearson said. His argument is that at the time the building was constructed, it was intended to be a residence and so the IBC would not apply. But now agrees a portion of the building is a business and a certificate of occupancy should be granted.

When asked about the building permit, Hollowell advised that the permit still has not been filed.

Cory Alger, the facilitator of the appeals board, asked Pearson if the building is being occupied and Pearson acknowledged it is occupied by Jones.

“So you don’t have a certificate of occupancy, but you’re using the building,” Alger asked.

Alger said that the code does apply to the commercial building Jones is using as his residence and his business.

“I’m under the impression we are here to discuss whether the building code is applicable to your project,” Alger said. “As a commercial building, it is applicable. As a residential individual house, it is not. It is a commercial structure … therefore, you are subject to the International Building Code regulation, which requires you to have a permit for construction. You’re occupying a building that does not have a building permit or CO and that violates the building code we say you are subject to. That’s my concern.”

The appeal board members agreed that the IBC does apply to the structure, but beyond that did not rule on whether Jones must vacate the building or stop work on the site.

“We don’t have that authority,” Alger said. “We are here to address building codes.”

Hollowell suggested that he would give Jones a 10-day extension rather than being forced to vacate the building immediately and during that time have a meeting with County Attorney David O’Donnell “to have a discussion.”

For being in violation, Jones is facing fines totaling $27,300.

Following the hearing before the appeals board, Jones and his attorneys were met outside the Chancery Building by two Oxford Police Department officers and Jones was placed under arrest.

According to the OPD, Jones was charged with a misdemeanor for failure to pay fines in municipal court. He was taken to the Lafayette County Detention Center where  he was booked and later bonded out.

On June 5, Jones was arrested by Lafayette County sheriff’s deputies on a warrant from the Mississippi Department of Health on a misdemeanor charge of improper disposal of waste.

The MDH alleges Jones had sewage but no working septic tank on the property on Highway 7.

He was taken to the Lafayette County Detention Center where he was booked and released on a $500 bond.