TOPSHAM – The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Jan. 8 to increase the fine for starting or completing work in town without a permit to five times the permit cost.
While the current penalty is a $50 fine for building and electrical permits and double the permit fee for plumbing, the new penalty could drive what would have been a $100 permit cost up to $500 for non-permitted projects.
The changes, proposed by Codes Enforcement Officer Tod Rosenberg, “might make people think twice about starting work without a permit,” Planning Director Rich Roedner told selectmen.
Roedner pointed out that the code language is clear concerning exemptions to the penalty in cases of emergencies, such as an electrical panel fire that needs to be fixed immediately. In such a case an electrician would have three days to obtain a permit.
“We recognize that there are emergencies,” Roedner said, “and we don’t want to have somebody not do emergency work for fear of this (penalty) coming in, so it’s clear in the code that they’re allowed three days when there’s an emergency.”
The board also unanimously approved having Town Manager Jim Ashe sign an agreement with the communities of Bowdoinham, Richmond and Gardiner to work together in planning a regional trail system. The vision of the trail is to connect the Androscoggin River Pedestrian Bike Path in Topsham with the Village Center in Bowdoinham, the Village Center in Richmond and the Kennebec River Rail Trail in Gardiner.
Rod Melanson, Topsham’s natural resource planner, said the vision for the project reaches 20 to 30 years out.
“That (agreement) gets the ball rolling for people to start going for grants,” Melanson said.
Selectman Jim Trusiani said he supported the project “100 percent,” adding that “this doesn’t commit a dollar, this just allows good sound planning for something that I think in 10, 15 years will work for the betterment of the community.”
Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.