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Council debates building permit changes in Martinsburg

September 10, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Martinsburg City Council members debated Thursday night whether homeowners doing repairs themselves on their houses should be forced to pay for new building permits the city plans to require.

Councilman Donald Anderson said if a window in his home breaks, he is not going to wait for city approval to replace it, as would be required under the new ordinance.

Councilman Frank Idoni agreed, saying he should be allowed to replace his carpet if he wants to without first seeking a city-issued building permit.

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Currently, building permits are required for some projects but not others, said City Manager Mark Baldwin. He said the purpose of the ordinance is to ensure work is being done by licensed contractors who are paying the city's Business and Occupation tax.

Baldwin said Martinsburg is one of the few cities without such an ordinance. Most cities require a $15 building permit fee for jobs such as those mentioned during the meeting.

Other jobs affected would be for those people who want to replace siding on their homes or put new shingles on their roofs.

City Planner/Engineer Mike Covell suggested that the ordinance be revised to note that homeowners doing such work themselves would be exempt from paying the fee. Only contractors would have to pay.

That change will be made before the next City Council meeting.

For Idoni, his attendance at Thursday's meeting marked the first time he has attended a City Council meeting since it became public that neighbors alleged to police that he had been seen at night walking around his neighborhood with a baseball bat.

Idoni, who defeated incumbent Glenville Twigg by four votes in the city's June election, was the subject of several official police complaints from June 15 to Aug. 8.

Along with carrying a baseball bat, Idoni was seen yelling at people, banging on cars and making threats, according to allegations in police records. Police did not file any charges in connection with those incidents.

At the meeting Idoni was active - asking questions, seconding motions and, once, dissenting in a 5-2 vote.

Idoni did not attend last month's Council meeting, which was held a day after the allegations were made public.

Because Council members went into a closed-door executive session immediately after Thursday's meeting, Idoni could not be reached for comment.

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