Building permits up in Pa. townships

July 06, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Homeowners and building contractors wore a path into Washington and Antrim township, Pa., offices last month to obtain record numbers of building permits before Pennsylvania's new Uniform Construction Code went into effect July 1.

Pennsylvania joins 47 other states with uniform building standards for new construction, addition and remodeling projects.

Although the code was in place Thursday, the Pennsylvania Legislature is still trying to smooth out parts of the new code, which drew constituent complaints that claim the new regulations make it harder to do basic home repairs.

Under the code, property owners can still do basic home repairs such as replacing windows and doors; installing vinyl siding, ceiling fans or roofs; building patios or repairing plumbing fixtures with cut-off valves.


Waynesboro-area real estate agent and developer Ronnie Martin said last month the new code could add $1,000 to the price of building an average home.

To beat last week's deadline, applicants in Washington Township obtained 141 building permits equaling $14 million worth of construction projects in June, more than the $13 million worth issued for the first five months of the year through May 31, said Gerald R. Zeigler Jr., the township's zoning enforcement officer.

"If we don't get any more this year we will already have beaten last year," he said. "We anticipate another $3 million to $4 million by the end of the year to put us over $30 million," he said.

In 2003, the township issued 279 building permits worth about $20 million, he said.

Included in last month's total were permits for 42 dwelling units. The township normally issues building permits for about 20 houses in June, a busy month for home construction, Zeigler said.

Angela Hudson, zoning officer for Antrim Township, said 197 building permits were issued in June. In June 2003 the township issued 46 permits.

Last month's total included permits for 46 single-family homes. In June 2003, permits for 13 single-family homes were issued, Hudson said.

She said 130 building permits were issued in 2003. So far this year the township has issued 441.

Most Franklin County municipalities, Washington and Antrim townships included, have signed contracts with Commonwealth Code Inspection Service Inc., a private company based in Manheim, Pa., to handle inspections under the new state code rather than to hire certified building inspectors.

The company is starting out with eight inspectors to handle the four main construction areas - electrical, plumbing, mechanical and general building, a company official said last month.

Residents or their contractors in the municipalities that signed on with CCIS have to go to the company's Chambersburg, Pa., office at 550 Cleveland Ave., to obtain building permits.

Each permit application has to be accompanied by a land use plan approved by the municipality that meets local zoning, subdivision and public utility regulations.

The Waynesboro Borough Council signed up with Accredited Services, a local firm, to do inspections in the borough. Waynesboro residents can obtain building permits locally.

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