CROSSLAKE - Building a home in Crosslake could cost more in permit fees if the city adopts the state's building code, but Wednesday city officials wondered if they weren't already paying in terms of safety and environmental issues without it.
"As an engineer I've seen more homes and sites developed improperly and inappropriately," said council member Steve Roe, noting his role as council liaison to planning and zoning. Plans that look fine on paper are not followed during construction, Roe said.
"We talk about preserving the environment that we live in here, the environment that draws people here, and I can take you out and spend four or five days viewing properties that have been abused."
Whether the city adopts the state building code or not, Roe said more needs to done to ensure follow-ups on permits. The council agreed to hear a presentation on the building code from Kevin Mealhouse.
Ken Anderson, community development director, suggested the council consider adopting the state building code as they go through budget talks.
"In my view it's a public safety issue and a consumer protection issue," Anderson said.
If the city adopted the building code, it would mean hiring a building inspector and finding office room, something not currently available. Anderson said the building inspector would need to work with 30 to 40 new homes to be kept busy full time.
This year to date the city has issued 21 new house permits. Anderson said the fees collected would be expected to pay for the inspector, but he noted no room for an office in city hall and higher building permit fees are factors to be considered.
Planning and zoning department fees are expected to generate at least $5,000 less in revenues in 2008 as the budget anticipates a fall from $50,000 to $45,000.
Council member Dean Swanson said adopting the building code may not happen in 2008 but it could be considered for the future.
"The first logical step is to have this meeting," said council member Rusty ty Taubert. Mayor Jay Andolshek and council member Irene Schultz both wondered if the addition would really be revenue neutral. Schultz said she believed a building inspector was needed.
Andolshek said planning and zoning needs to have the council backup for permit enforcement and that hasn't always been the case in the past.
Space needs were raised in regard to several issues.
Fire Chief Keith Anderson received a $4,000 DNR matching grant to help purchase a draft pump used at hydrants but needed to make the purchase in September to get the grant.
Anderson said the pump, which is mounted on a pickup, will free up an 800-gallon pumper truck that is used for that purpose now. The pumper truck will then be able to go into service at the fire scene.
The pump unit's cost is $11,915 with the fire department paying an additional $4,000 so the city was requested to put up the $4,000 grant match. The city council agreed to take the money out of this year's budget.
But the issue added to questions about space needs. The pump will be added to a truck the fire department now uses to haul equipment. Anderson said a third party is interested in donating a truck to the fire department as a replacement.
Swanson asked where they plan to park the additional truck. The city is feeling a bit strapped for space with fire equipment, squad cars and city equipment and records all vying for existing space.
Swanson said officials need to start thinking about where additional space for expansions to the police department or fire department may be located in the future.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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