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After hours inspections fee approved

GATESVILLE – Following several rounds of internal discussion and a public hearing, the Gates County Board of Commissioners have approved an amendment to the county’s Fees and Fines Ordinance.

The change concerns a special fee assessed when the county’s Building Inspector is called out to perform his duties after 5 p.m. on weekdays, on weekends, and holidays.

Linda Hofler, Chair of the CountyCommissioners, stated that inspections completed after the aforementioned time and dates will have a $100 an hour charge. Inspections conducted due to emergencies caused by Mother Nature will not be charged.

Upon discussing the matter prior to taking a vote, Commissioner Billy Felton said he would like to make sure the after-hours inspection is requested by the contractor performing the work or the owner of the property where the work is being performed.

Commissioner Henry Jordan agreed with Felton, saying that that the inspection needs to be requested by the contractor after the Inspections Office has made every effort to conduct the inspection during normal business hours of the work day.

Commissioner Jack Owens stated he submitted an email with suggested wording and typically a contractor that would request something of this nature is doing so because it benefits their project. Owens stressed the need of a separate application for an after-hours inspection to make sure the contractor is specifically requesting an inspection after working hours and is in agreement with the added fee.

Jordan stressed the need to protect the small projects as well as the big projects and requested to have something in place to make sure the Inspections Office isn’t delaying the process to the point where the owner or contractor feels they must request an after-hours inspection. Hofler stated she believes the Inspections Office works as efficiently as possible to ensure that inspections are conducted in timely manner.

Jordan added that if current staff cannot support the inspections that are requested during normal working hours, the county may need to cover the costs of after-hours inspections or hire additional staff.

Edgar Mitchell, Building Inspector, explained the situations where a contractor would request the after-hours service is typically because it is for a business and they do not want to interrupt business hours. He cited solar farm construction where construction is often handled in 24-hour shifts so they can speed up their schedule and they request inspections that are convenient to them.

Mitchell added that the new fee is not intended to handle backlog.

If an emergency occurs and a county citizen needs an inspection that is beyond their control they will not be charged.

Jordan said it needs to be noted that a fee will be charged an inspection is requested to benefit the owner/contractor. He then made a motion to approve the amendment to the Fees & Fines Ordinance for an inspection after hours at $100 per hour when requested by the permit holder and notified by the office that there is an additional fee. Owens seconded the motion, which passed without opposition.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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