Planners reviewing permit fees

PARKERSBURG – A breakdown of permit fees charged by other counties and municipalities in comparison to Wood County was presented Wednesday to the Wood County Planning Commission for its review and recommendations on potential changes.

Planning commissioners agreed to review the fees and return with recommendations at their next meeting. No date for the next meeting was announced. The planning commission is required to meet at least quarterly.

The county commission asked for the comparative analysis with other Class I counties and cities, John Reed, county compliance and building permit officer, said. Marion, Marshall, Mercer and Ohio counties require permits, but do not charge, he said.

Reed said in the case of building permits, some counties charge by square footage while others by estimated construction cost. In Wood County, a building permit is $10 for the first $1,000 of estimated materials and labor costs and another $1 for every additional $1,000 after that.

The county also has a flat $10 fee for porches, gutters, trailers, mobile homes, demolition. Wood County is the only county in the state that exempts nonprofit organizations from permit fees.

Kanawha County charges $200 for mobile homes,” Reed said.

The fee structure has been in place since 1977 in Wood County, Wood County Emergency Management Director Ed Hupp said.

“The federal floodplain regulations required the county have a building permit system in place,” Hupp said.

Some counties do inspections as part of the fee.

“It’s always been my understanding the basic reason behind the permits was just to provide notification to the assessor’s office,” said Marty Seufer, county administrator and planning commission coordinator.

“You can decide to change, flat line, raise all or some of the fees. It’s pretty complicated,” he said. “Hopefully you can come back with some suggestions and we can reach some consensus that can be passed along to the county commission.” Seufer said.

The review is part of a request from County Commissioner Wayne Dunn, County Commissioner Steve Gainer, the county commission liaison to the planning commission, said.

“The county commission doesn’t necessarily want to raise the fees. We just decided when it was brought up that we wanted the planning commission to make a recommendation,” Gainer said.

Some fees are set by state statute and can only be changed by the Legislature or there are minimum and maximum limits set. In the case of building, demolition and related permits, those fees are set by the county.

While the county has been advised by special legal counsel Blaine Myers that any changes would be made by ordinance and do not require a public hearing, Seufer said because fees are involved, it was recommended a public hearing be set after the recommendations are made.

The public hearing would be held before the county commission, which approves the fees.

Examples of fees:

* For a $150,000/1,500-square-foot new residence in Wood County, the fee would be $159; in Parkersburg, $900; Vienna, $525; Williamstown, $235.

* For a new commercial structure valued at $250,000 for 5,000 square feet, the cost would be $259 in Wood County; $1,375, Parkersburg; $1,250, Vienna; $260 in Williamstown.

* Wood County has no fee for roofing and signage.

* Wood County charges a flat $10 to set a single-wide mobile home. While many entities no longer allow the units, those that do charge regular rates.

* Some counties including Kanawha charge an additional fee for construction in a floodplain.

* Kanawha County charges $100 for residential and $300 for commercial projects in the floodplain.

* For residential, commercial, and remodeling, Kanawha County charges $25 for the first $1,000 and $2.50 for each additional $1,000; Vienna charges a valuation rate of 0.0044 to 0.0051 for residential and 0.0076 to 0.0084 for commercial.