Building inspections debated

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – The Belmont County Commissioners reviewed several ongoing concerns during Wednesday’s meeting.

Pease Township Trustee Michael Bianconi inquired about the commissioners’ upcoming decision to either continue utilizing Washington County’s services for building inspection or resume utilizing the state.

Commissioner Matt Coffland said the decision was motivated by the desire for greater convenience as more businesses continued to pursue ventures in the area. He added that he has spoken with businesses, labor and trade councils, and individual contractors and none have reported problems. He added that no problems had been raised with state inspections either. He said Washington County follows the same code as the state.

Bianconi noted that Washington County does not require the fire department to sign off on projects.

Commissioner Charles R. Probst Jr. said the commissioners were not aware that unincorporated areas would be required to adopt Washington County rather than remain with the state.

He added that one possible option would be for Belmont County to create its own building inspection department. The commissioners are looking into costs and other requirements for such an implementation.

Commissioner Ginny Favede said she would vote to remove the process from Washington County and going back to the state when the matter comes up for a vote.

“What was presented and what is in practice are two different things,” she said, adding that the commissioners took the concerns of the fire department seriously. She agreed that at the first of the year the county might look into funding and creating its own building department.

Afterward, Cumberland Trail Fire Chief Ken Saffell reported that he had made contact with Washington County officials and their inspectors have agreed to add the district’s safety tests, but the district was still not required to sign off on a new project.

In other matters, commissioners are preparing a resolution to requiring business contractors to adhere to county specifications in their projects. The prosecutor is looking over the possible legislation.

“Somebody has to take responsibility,” said Probst.

The issue was precipitated by a botched attempt to shoot and chip County Road 18 between Lafferty and Flushing about two weeks ago. Parnell & Associates did the work on behalf of Oxford Mining. Commissioners noted numerous car owners suffered damage to their vehicles, with 251 claims filed and an average of $600 in damage on each vehicle.

County Engineer Fred Bennett confirmed that Parnell’s insurance has denied the claims, as had the county’s insurance.

Also, commissioners motioned to approve an increase in bulk water rates for bulk users, temporary users, and water permit users from $5 to $6 per 1,000 gallons due to increase of operation expenses. The $5 rate has never been increased.

Commissioners motioned to enter into a consultant agreement with Poggemeyer Design Group, Inc. for preparation of the project development process for the replacement of a deficient bridge on Blaine-Barton Road in the amount of $68,846. The project is 80 percent federal funds and 20 percent local funds. $13,769 will come from the Engineer Road and Bridge Fund.

Favede was authorized to execute an invoice for Heritage Architectural Associates for the OUE Brick Tavern Project. The federal share of 80 percent comes to $2,203 with the 20 percent local share of $550.75.

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