Mon, Jul 28, 2014 ●
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Reduced fee structure goes to Topsham public hearing

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Reduced fee structure goes to Topsham public hearing

TOPSHAM — Two code enforcement fees may soon be going down.

Codes Enforcement Officer Tod Rosenberg said he is proposing amendments to the town's fee schedule that will make the costs more equitable for owners of mobile homes and warehouses. The Board of Selectmen voted last week to schedule a public hearing and decision on the matter for Thursday, June 4.

While existing mobile home sites are charged at the same rate as traditional "stick-built" homes for electrical, building and plumbing permits, Rosenberg said, the amendment would create a category for existing, code-compliant mobile homes that would reduce fees for those sites.

Currently the permitting cost for a 66-foot by 14-foot mobile home moving into a park or onto an existing pad is $277, including a $231 building permit, a $36 plumbing permit and a $10 electrical permit. The amendment would create a $100 flat fee for all three, and require a single permit instead of three.

"I wasn't working as hard for (existing sites) as I did for somebody that was building from scratch," Rosenberg said.

He also proposed that a subcategory be added to Topsham's electrical permit language for new warehouses. Warehouses, compared with a building of the same size used for a different commercial purpose, have a significantly lower electrical demand and fixture count, Rosenberg explained.

As a result, he proposed that the new category would reduce the permit free from 9 cents per square foot to 3 cents. The lowered fee would better reflect the reduced staff time needed to conduct electrical inspections and plan reviews at those warehouses.

While a 45,000-square-foot Best Buy structure would incur an electrical permit fee of $4,050, which Rosenberg called appropriate for a retail building, the current fee structure charges an excessive percentage of the total project cost for a warehouse, he said. Under the new structure, a warehouse of 45,000 square feet would incur a $1,350 electrical permit fee.

The Board of Selectmen also voted to approve a request from Rick Wilson, executive director of the Cathance River Education Alliance, to undertake an archaeological dig on a portion of Head of Tide Park on Cathance Road.

The dig would create test pits and survey artifacts to the left and right of the falls on the Merrymeeting Bay side of the historic site, which people may have used long ago to fish or carry canoes, Wilson explained in an April 30 letter to the Head of Tide Park Committee and Topsham Development.

Wilson said he would like the dig to occur in July, coordinated by archaeologist Eric Lahti of Madison.

Angela Twitchell of the Head of Tide Park Committee said the closing of the property's sale from TDI to the town should occur within the next two weeks. The digging should occur by the time the town owns the property.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.