Planners recommend changes in permit fees

PARKERSBURG – Wood County planners voted unanimously Wednesday night to change some permit fees.

The fee change recommendations will now go to the county commissioners for consideration. County officials have said they will schedule a public hearing on the changes to allow public input.

The planners voted to recommend mobile home permit fees be the same as residential building permit fees. The fee now is $10. Under the recommended change, the fee would be $10 for the first $1,000 of estimated value and another $1 for every additional $1,000 after that.

“We get a lot of mobile homes being moved in the county. Some counties, like Kanawha County, charge a $200 fee for mobile homes,” John Reed, building permit/compliance officer, told planning commission members.

“I think the mobile homes need to be treated the same as a house,” said planning commission member Steve Valentine.

The planning commission will recommend a change in the county demolition permit fee. That fee is $10. As recommended, the fee would be the same as a residential building permit, $10 for the first $1,000 and $1 for each additional $1,000 of the cost of demo.

This was one of the fees cited earlier as an example of lost potential revenue. Officials noted the demo fee for the Johns Manville site, which is just outside Vienna corporate limits, was $30 for three years. The same fee, if the property had been within Vienna city limits, would have been $13,680 for that same period. Demolition and cleanup at the site have not been completed.

This change would only apply to commercial/industrial sites; the $10 demo permit fee for residential properties would remain under the recommendations voted on Wednesday by planners.

The planning commission also voted to recommend a $50 flat permit fee be charged for signage. Currenty there is no fee charged.

As to floodplain building permits, Reed noted the Federal Emergency Management Agency requires site visits be made by county floodplain enforcement officials to ensure compliance with the floodplain ordinance.

“We usually make three or more visits, so they are getting services that are not being provided to a residential site not in a floodplain,” Reed said.

Kanawha and Jefferson counties charge $300 for such an inspection.

Wood County charges no additional fee.

“I would agree, a floodplain permit fee is not outrageous with the time involved,” said Kevin Roberts, planning commission president.

“FEMA does check the records for compliance and that affects the county’s flood insurance ratings,” Reed said.

Motions to make the floodplain fee $50 and $300 died for lack of a second.

It was decided that a flat $150 fee should be recommended for the county commissioners to consider for the floodplain building fee.

At their last meeting in December, the planning commission was asked to review the permit fees listed from other Class I counties and area municipalities.

Wood County is the only county in the state that exempts nonprofit organizations from permit fees; that was not discussed at Wednesday night’s meeting. The county permit fee structure has been in place since 1977 and was last amended in 2007.