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S. Greensburg to clarify building permit fees

| Monday, May 14, 2012, 10:20 a.m.

South Greensburg's new ordinance setting fees for building permits has proved to be confusing and will be clarified at next week's meeting, borough council said Monday night.

Zoning Officer Paul Fennell said he has fielded complaints and questions from everyone who has applied for a permit since the revised ordinance was unanimously passed and enacted July 9. The ordinance was changed to bring it more in line with fees of two neighboring municipalities - Greensburg and Hempfield Township - council President Edward Kuszajewski said.

Fennell said Robert Bishop, the council member who pushed through the revisions, incorrectly explained the fees to him. He said Bishop, who did not attend the meeting, told him to charge the minimum fee, as well as charges per square foot.

Kuszajewski confirmed that what Bishop said was wrong. 'Once you pass the minimum fee,' he said, you can't charge per square foot as well, according to the ordinance.

Kuszajewski said the old ordinance had not been changed for many years, and that some fees were too high, while others were too low. 'We're not trying to make money on this,' he said. The council, he said, was trying to put the fee schedule more on a par with the surrounding municipalities' fees.

To show how much the ordinance has changed, Fennell gave the example of a porch that was approved under the old ordinance, which provided for a building permit fee of $13. Under the new ordinance it would cost about $56, and under Bishop's computation it would've cost about $82.

Kuszajewski admitted that there was some confusion in the ordinance's wording, and that it will be addressed at next week's meeting.

'The poor people who are trying to remodel are the ones being hit' by the revised ordinance, Fennell said. He also expressed some dismay that the ordinance was examined by the finance committee instead of the zoning board prior to council's approval.

In other business, council approved a borough insurance policy this year for $30,446 by McDowell Associates Inc. The policy costs about $1,500 more than last year, borough secretary Lee Kunkle said, but it was the only bid received.

Along with the ordinance clarification, a cable franchise agreement, community development agreement and other items are on the agenda for the meeting at 7 p.m. Monday.

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