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Permit issue prompts policy review

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The Orchard City trustees gathering at its monthly work session on Sept. 7 discussed a thorny issue involving enforcement of its building permit regulations.

During a staff and trustee discussion, it was stated that construction had been started on a commercial building in town without the owner first obtaining a town building permit costing $250.

When the work was discovered, the town's building official notified the owner that a permit was required.

While it took 30 days to get a set of engineered plans to town hall and the building permit paid for, there were other confrontations and broken promises, town officials said.

The matter is being referred to the town planning commission for a recommendation on how to "give some teeth" to the town's building official in such situations. Also to be considered, according to trustees, will be the possibility of imposing a scaled monetary penalty for flaunting the building permit requirement, a penalty that could double the cost of a permit in instances of willful violation.

In a separate item of business at the trustees' work session, the northwest region manager for the Department of Local Affairs, Elise Ackerman-Casselberry, paid a courtesy visit to the newly elected board. She introduced herself and discussed some of the DOLA programs available to the town. DOLA has paid for some feasibility studies for town projects and also contributed to the cost of building town hall and realignment of Austin Road some years back, it was stated.

The decline in revenue to state and federal coffers from minerals production will have a big effect on the Energy Assistance Impact Fund and on the grants that DOLA gives out from money paid in by energy companies. Ackerman-Casselberry said that the agency has conducted three grant cycles of $35 million each in past years. Next year, due to the decline in receipts from minerals activity, DOLA will conduct three grant cycles of $15 million each.

Orchard City trustees also discussed how to maintain adequate financial controls over use of the town's credit card account.

Copies of the draft town Master Plan were distributed for trustee review. The plan will be subject of a public hearing and possible adoption by the town board at its Sept. 14 meeting (see related story on page C1).

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