When the Paris City Council met Monday night, three recommendations from the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission were on the agenda. Two of them dealt with complying with city building permit regulations.
Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Eric Wells said last week that commissioners aren’t trying to “get tough” over building permits.
“I wouldn’t say we’re getting tough,” Wells said. “We’re just working hard to make sure the ordinances we have in place are followed. On building permits, we’re just saying follow the rules. If you don’t know the rules, we’ll be happy to help you follow them.”
The two recommendations considered by members of the City Council dealt with a house that had been moved without securing a building permit and a garage attachment that had been built without getting a building permit first.
“The biggest problem we’re having with building permits isn’t knowingly violating the ordinance,” Wells said. “It’s just that people don’t realize they have to have a permit, for example, to move a building onto your property or to build a carport. Building permits are cheap.”
Building permits can be purchased at City Hall. According to City Clerk Mary Sullivan, the price of a building permit is based on the fair market value of the structure to be built or moved. The minimum is $10 for a structure valued at $1,000. For each $1,000 of value beyond that, add $2.50 to the cost of the building permit. That covers residential items only. If it’s a commercial structure, the state charges 50 cents for each $1,000 of valuation.
If someone doesn’t secure a building permit, the matter can be brought up before the Planning and Zoning Commission which can make a recommendation to the City Council.
“If someone doesn’t get a permit, the city can get the structure abated, or removed, or construction can be stopped until a permit is issued,” Wells said.
Wells said the most frequent building permit issues recently have involved auxiliary buildings, such as a shed, that is purchased and moved onto a property.
“This has come up more in the last couple of years than ever before,” Wells said. “You can look around and see that there are smaller buildings in town available for purchase. The market for them has grown. We’ve reached out to those selling them to let them know and tell the customer that a permit is needed.”
Currently, the legal allowable size of an auxiliary building is 800 square feet and you still have to have a permit. Anything bigger not only requires a permit but a variance from the Planning and Zoning Commission, according to Wells.
“One thing we’re looking at is increasing the size of secondary buildings requiring a variance,” Wells said. “Eight-hundred square feet isn’t very big for a garage, considering the size of today’s automobiles.”