INFRASTRUCTURE COMMITTEE MEETING
Tuesday, June 5, 2012 – 6:00 pm
Chamber Room – Countryside City Hall
1. Call meeting to order.
2. Roll call.
Alderman Karen Michalczyk – Chairman, Alderman Sean McDermott, Alderman Scott Musillami, Mayor Ed Krzeminski – Ex-Officio
3. Approval of Minutes – April 3, 2012.
4. Discussion on Permit Fees, Citations Issued for Work without a Permit, and History with Repeat Offenders.
5. Explanation of Current Mayor’s Building Permit.
6. Discussion on ZBA’s Request to Modify the Fence Ordinance.
7. Other Committee Business.
MINUTES OF INFRASTRUCTURE COMMITTEE MEETING
CITY OF COUNTRYSIDE – CITY HALL
JUNE 5, 2012 – 6:00 P.M. CHAMBER ROOM
CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL
1. Meeting called to order at 6:00 P.M. Present: Chair Karen Michalczyk, Alderman Sean McDermott, Alderman Scott Musillami. Also present: Mayor Ed Krzeminski; City Clerk Sharon Sweeney; Alderman James Jasinski; Alderman John Von Drasek; Assistant Administrator Sharon Peterson; City Planner Bryan Swanson; City Attorney Erik Peck; Building Official Steve Tisinai; PC-ZBA Chairman Rich Fullmer; PC-ZBA Member Tina Grotzke; PC-ZBA member Mark Benson; Residents Jeff Kemmer and Pat and Bruce Schwartz.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
2. The minutes of the April 3, 2012 were approved as submitted.
DISCUSSION ON PERMIT FEES, CITATIONS ISSUED FOR WORK WITHOUT A PERMIT, AND HISTORY WITH REPEAT OFFENDERS
3. Building Official Steve Tisinai explained up until about 2006 the City did not charge or require permits for anything under $5,000. In 2006, the International Code was adopted and the City used the permit structures in the code. The code basically required a permit for anything other than painting and carpeting. The minimum residential permit fee was $25 and anything else was based on a valuation of $8 per $1000 job cost. In November 2010, the permit fees were reviewed for a way to make it easier; sometimes using the job cost did not make sense. The City Council changed to a per square foot permit fee and raised the minimum permit fee to $50 based on input from Assistant Administrator Peterson, TPI, Inc. and Alderman Von Drasek. It was determined $50 for one inspection would cover the inspectors and administration time.
If someone is caught working without a permit they are charged the permit fee of $50 plus two times the permit fee as a penalty for a total of $150. If someone is doing work without a permit they are stopped. As long as the individual complies they are often not fined and charged the extra fee. If there becomes a problem with the permit issuance then they will be charged the administration fees. If anyone is a repeat offender they are charged the permit fee, the work without a permit fee and multiple times over. There are not many repeat offenders. Violators are often caught during code enforcement patrol and when residents call in on their neighbors.
Mayor Krzeminski said, It used to be that the city was citizen friendly and I really think that to have the resident get a permit for every repair down to the littlest nook and cranny is getting to be to be too big of a big brother. What if you’re laying a walkway with brick pavers? If you have a broken window? If you are changing a pane of glass? If you have a bad piece of drywall? As far as electrical, plumbing, something that can be serious to the homeowner, to the resident, to the community, I agree with that, but changing a doorknob? I did a little work on my garage; I did not alternate anything. It is a repair. You are penalizing people for up-grading their house. They want to improve themselves and you are penalizing them by charging them $50 for permits and to have an inspection. How are you going to do an inspection of door knob? A window pane? I don’t understand that. There has to be a little judgment as to how far you are going to go to where you need a permit.
Building Official Steve Tisinai responded, And there absolutely is Mr. Mayor. According to the building code everything pretty much requires a permit, but when someone is doing something minor if you talk to me and tell me what the scope is I could make a document and put it in the file. As long as it was just replacing six or seven rows of siding on the garage I know what’s going on and it’s documented, then I can tell you, you don’t need a permit. The trouble comes in as you mentioned a window pane. There are certain places where safety glazing is required. Tempered glass is used to prevent someone from having their hand go through a window and slicing their arm or their face cut up and most people don’t know those requirements. With laying a brick paver patio there are requirements regarding stair raiser heights and landings outside of doors. These are types of things that most people aren’t aware of and they become a tripping hazard. I think we have a done a real good job on using common sense judgment to say when someone does or does not need a permit. I do want to know what’s going on so when someone calls and says their neighbor is doing something in their backyard I don’t have to waste time going out there and having a discussion with them after the fact. I could say yes, I already talked to them and this is what is going on and they don’t need a permit for that.
Resident Jeff Kazmer asked if he would need to call in before putting up a screen on the inside of a garage door. Bldg. Ofc. Tisinai replied he would need to call in because the code addresses the need for a permit for that type of work.
Alderman Von Drasek remarked most of the issues revolving around changing the doorknob were because there is not suppose to be a key on the inside. In the event of a fire people cannot get out.
Alderman McDermott said, Still, if you install the door improperly you run the risk of people dying in a fire, so it needs to be done properly. The building code is there to protect peoples’ safety. The international code is reviewed by international experts who look at it and say what is going to provide the highest level of protection for the homeowner and taking a step back is a huge mistake and I am completely comfortable with it and have no intentions of changing anything.
Chair Michalczyk said, In the past, people were getting garage permits for $25 when their garage cost $5,000, plus getting all of this additional work done and the permit fee wasn’t covering costs.
Mayor Krzeminski replied, Our budget is made from one thing, public funds and it is suppose to be used for the purpose of the public and this is a certain way of taxing them. I fully agree there are certain things that should be permitted and a fee included. Yes, it was wrong that when people come in and say the cost is under $5,000. You have to show how much it is really going to be then you can do something to adjust the cost. For a basic permit, you know our public funds should have some benefit for the public.
Alderman Von Drasek stated, The $50 basically just covers the expense for TPI to go out, but what they also get which residents may not be aware is code enforcement that is very helpful. They may be coming out and doing something that isn’t up to code so they get the knowledge that maybe they should be doing it a certain way.
Alderman McDermott commented, Or plumbing that backs up, now you have a have a public health and safety issue where you are kicking sewage back in a potable water system. It is there for public health and safety.
Alderman Von Drasek said, It also protects our property values because things are being done properly. We don’t have a bunch of homes that are code deficient.
Building Official Tisinai stated, I think we have two different issues we are talking about here. One is the permit fees and the other is work requiring a permit. As far as the permit fees go, the $50 is the minimum fee that does not come close covering the staff time, even in the most miniscule roofing permit. It takes time for the Building Department to process the application, check their State license, issue the permit, and do a final inspection. All of that time costs more than $50. The fee structure, beyond the minimum is based on square footage instead of job cost which makes a lot more sense. If two residents have the same size basement and one is finishing it for $6,000 and the other for $30,000 if it is the same project, it should be the same amount of money.
Building Official Tisinai further explained as the City’s consultant he would have to advise the City to not make anything less astringent than what is in the International Codes. The codes have been in place for a long time and the model codes are used in communities all around the world.
Chair Michalczyk commented the whole purpose is if anyone is going to do anything-call. With no further comments or questions the Building Code will remain as is.
EXPLANATION OF CURRENT MAYOR’S BUILDING PERMIT
4. This item was brought up at the last City Council meeting, but Mayor Krzeminski wanted to address this under the previous item, which is was. The process was fully explained and executed. This item is a non-issue.
Discussion on ZBA’s request to Modify the Fence Ordinance
5. The fence ordinance was adopted in 2008 and since then Asst. Admin. Peterson found the City has over-turned the fence ordinance per the PC-ZBA’s recommendation six times.
PC-ZBA Chairman Fullmer explained the ordinance as it stands now is not what the people want. Everyone that comes before PC-ZBA complains the distance between the boards is too large to confine small dogs and little kids. Another type of circumstance is a Ward 2 resident wanted a privacy fence along their back yard to prevent people being in the woods looking in the bedrooms.
Attorney Peck informed the committee the fence ordinance is in the City Building Code so it is not subject to the PC-ZBA Commission.
Ald. McDermott presented a picture of a fence on 55thPlace. The fence is made of wolmanized material and is in compliance, but the resident complained their pit bull is running at it and going through the slats. Ald. McDermott favors an amendment to the ordinance to address resident’s concerns.
Ald. McDermott explained the reason there was an amendment to the code originally is because residents were placing 6 foot wolmanized stockade fence sections and surrounding their entire home.
Ald. Von Drasek thought the complaints were more about the variance fee of $750. Building Official Tisinai explained the City does not charge a variance fee is $750 because it is not in the zoning code.
PC-ZBA Chairman Fullmer believed the residents are not interested in stockade fencing, but they do want to close up the distance between the slats.
Chair Michalczyk directed staff to research the topic further and report back to the committee.
Building Official Tisinai asked if there was an open set amount or an open ratio to yard size to focus on during the research. Ald. McDermott suggested reviewing neighboring communities codes and the committee felt since 30 to 35 percent open has already been approved that would be a good starting point. Chair Michalczyk recommended if a full yard is being fenced it should be at least 30 percent open, but if a particular area is to be fenced there should be different restriction.
Building Official Tisinai explained a shadow box fence is zero percent open. When the fence is viewed perpendicularly, there are no open spaces to see through, but it does allow air flow.
Mayor Krzeminski recommended requiring businesses to have metal posts in order to lessen the likelihood a fence will collapse in the wind. Mayor Krzeminski also requested Building Official Tisinai to research why the code requires screws only and why brads cannot be used. Local home improvement stores sell the fences with brads, so it makes it difficult if a resident wants to install their own fence.
OTHER COMMITTEE BUSINESS
6. Alderman Mc Dermott reported a follow-up to the minutes where Hallowell and James’ property was discussed. It was reported the City was going out to bid to install storm sewers in June, but due to the City’s engineering company being extremely busy the bid did not go out. Ald. McDermott requested staff to stay on top of this because the residents, especially on Terry Lane, have already been informed the project is moving forward. This topic will be addressed in the next Administrator’s report.
7. No other business. The meeting is adjourned at 6:39 PM.
Dated: __________________ ________________________
Karen Michalczyk, Chair