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Tyrone Borough implements ‘doubled’ fees for work initiated without building permit

Tyrone Borough Code Enforcement Officer James Metzgar’s job is to administer and enforce the zoning ordinance. Metzgar, who is from Altoona, feels he has a better eye for the borough and his job compared to someone local who might be more lenient to the property maintenance code and for the issuance of permits.
The borough’s revamped zoning ordinance that was completed in Oct. 2007 amended Ordinance 1260 and implemented a new fee for those in the borough who do not seek building permits before construction.
In the zoning ordinance, Article VI – Administration, Enforcement and Procedures – Section 6.01, paragraph eight reads: Non-permitted Work – Work initiated prior to the issuance of a building permit will be subject to fees double those outlined in Section 6.06.
The regular permit fees in Section 6.06 of the zoning ordinance states that the first $1,000 of construction cost is $20, and after every $1,000 of cost beyond that is an additional $5.
Whatever the building permit fee is, that cost will now double if the contractor or resident does not seek the necessary permit.
Metzgar said he has been coming upon a lot of contractors and some residents lately, commencing with work without issuing a permit. He said that the borough will enforce this doubled fee diligently.
“Depending on the type of work someone is doing, they could be doing something structural that has to have its plans reviewed and approved, and then inspected,” said Metzgar.
Work being done could vary from a roof and replacement, siding, windows, an addition or a detached garage, but all work done needs to be explained to him and sent through the process. Plans may need to be submitted, along with making sure all set-back requirements are for zoning. Inspections may also have to be done on the property such as electrical, mechanical, plumbing and even building.
He added, “Numerous things can happen. You have shoddy contractors out there who just come in, get their work done and leave. Then you have reputable contractors who come in and issue the permit, and go through the process they’re suppose to in compliance with the code.”
“Just come into the borough office, come back to the Code Department and let me know exactly what type of work you’re commencing in,” said Metzgar.
Those who try to avoid issuing a building permit usually do so because of the cost and lengthy process, but Metzgar says this new fee should convince those who might try to skip the process to think otherwise.
“The process will be quicker if they come in and do it according to the building codes, and they shouldn’t have any problems,” said Metzgar. “Have the plans approved, have the inspection done if it requires one, or if it’s just a roof and replacement, just get the permit and there won’t be any additional fees being tacked on to the permit. Just comply with the IRC and IBC, and the property maintenance code.”
Some of the building permit process includes a 30-day Review Period, a Disapproval Period where if not approved the person(s) will receive a letter of why, with the applicant’s rights for appeal, and an Effective Period where permits become invalid unless the authorized construction work begins 180 days after the permit’s issuance or if the authorized work is suspended or abandoned for 180 days after the work has commenced.
A permit holder may submit a written request for an extension of time to commence construction for just cause. A building permit may be valid for no more than five years from its issue date.
Also, a Building Occupancy Permit (BOP) shall be required upon the completion of any buildings permitted under this ordinance. It is unlawful to use and/or occupy any building in any manner until the BOP is issued.
All of these duties and powers conferred by the zoning ordinance go through the zoning officer (Metzgar) under his inspection and determination, and conforms with the requirements of the zoning ordinance, with all other ordinances of the borough, and with the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
But, this new doubled fee for not issuing a building permit isn’t to simply follow the rules, it is also looking out for everyone in the borough.
“This enforcement is to insure public health, safety and welfare of the residents within the borough,” ended Metzgar.