Tyrone Borough expected to revise residential repair permit requirements

Earlier this year, Tyrone Borough decided to “opt in” to the state’s Uniform Construction Code.
Now after months of discussion and a review of its options, borough council agreed on Monday night about which direction to take to enforce the code after legislators made revisions to it and Governor Ed Rendell signed those changes into law in July.
Several months ago, the borough passed an ordinance to enforce the UCC with an effective date of July 1, 2004. A new fee schedule was also adopted. The ordinance and new fee schedule replaced the ones in effect under the borough’s previous building code.
Then the legislature enacted the revisions after the new ordinance took effect in the borough.
Since Tyrone had a previous building code prior to the adoption of the UCC , the borough had the right under state law to chose one of three options in terms of enforcing the UCC for residential repairs. The revisions to the UCC signed into law in July did not affect the commercial part of the code.
Code Enforcement officer Tom Lang had briefed council and the public on the issue at previous meetings and explained he was using the borough’s pre-July 1 code for the issuing of residential permits for repairs and alterations. Under state law, the borough was allowed to revert to the old code. After the revisions to the UCC took effect in mid-July, Lang told council that he was enforcing residential repair and permit issues under the borough’s old code. However the new fee structure remained in effect.
He also explained the borough had three options on how to enforce the code regarding residential matters.
Under the first option, the borough could enforce the UCC using the revisions signed into law in July. Under the second option, the borough could use its pre-July 1 code for residential issues. That code did not require permits for work done on existing plumbing, electrical or mechanical systems. Finally the borough could adopt an ordinance which would require permits for residential repairs and alterations which would reflect the requirements of the UCC prior to the exemptions which the state agreed to allow in July. Under that option, permits and inspections would be required for plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems.
Mayor Patricia Stoner had asked council to come up with their opinions on the issue. The mayor said she and councilman Bill Fink were the only members of council to submit such recommendations.
In an Oct. 8, 2004 memo to council the mayor said she favored reverting back to the borough’s previous code (option two) with some changes. The mayor reiterated those ideas at Monday’s meeting and councilman Fink concurred with the recommendations.
The mayor suggested the following: no permits would be required for interior repairs and replacements; for example, kitchen cabinets and trim. She also recommended no permits be required for floor replacement and coverings, hot water tanks, plumbing and electrical work, exterior and interior painting, window and door replacements equal to the size of the ones being replaced, driveways, so long as the portion that encompasses the sidewalk is not black top and private sidewalks that are not adjacent to borough right-of-ways.
The mayor recommended permits be required for roof replacement, exterior siding, porches and decks, railings and steps, public sidewalks, retaining walls over four feet in height, fences and new construction and accessory structures such as house additions, garages, sheds, car ports, etc.
The mayor also recommended the fee structure for residential repairs and alterations be rolled back to the ones in place under the pre-July 1 code.
In her memo, she said, “I do…think permitting is necessary if we are to maintain a certain standard within the borough. I think permits should be required for projects where inferior work could present safety issues, as well as open up our constituents to ‘scam artists.’ If we do not permit, we have no way of knowing who is in our borough and what they are doing, plus the fact that we need to be sure that people are in compliance with our zoning regulations.’’
Council voted by motion to have solicitor Larry Clapper prepare an ordinance to reflect the revisions recommended by the mayor.
Lang said he was informed by Clapper the changes would require an amendment to the ordinance which took effect July 1.
Lang also said for now, and at least until the end of the year, the borough will continue to use the fee structure which took effect this past summer as part of the borough’s decision to “opt in” to the UCC. He said very few people would be affected since there aren’t many permits issued this time of the year.
Council is expected to have the amended ordinance in time for adoption in December. The council usually reviews fee structures for the upcoming fiscal year in December as part of its budget process.
The borough is expected to approve reverting back to the fees under the old building code; the one in effect before July 1, 2004. The change would take effect on Jan. 1, 2005.
The fees for permits would revert to $10 for the first $1,000 of construction costs and $5 for every $1,000 thereafter.