Council passes revision for building permits

By a 4-2 vote, the Bonney Lake City Council passed an ordinance that would amend a section of the Municipal Code addressing building permits and permit applications.

By a 4-2 vote, the Bonney Lake City Council passed an ordinance that would amend a section of the Municipal Code addressing building permits and permit applications.

The action came during the council’s Feb. 24 regular meeting.

The amendment states that no permit shall be active beyond more than four years, instead of one building code cycle.

Voting in favor of the ordinance were council members Mark Hamilton, Laura Carter, Dave King and James Rackley. Opposed were Dave Bowen and Dan Decker.

The revision to the city code would allow for a permit to be active for two years with one two-year extension (four years total) and applications for a permit will be active for one year with a 180-day extension (18 months total).

Before the council voted, City Attorney Jim Dionne noted the change in the ordinance should read, “No permit shall be active beyond more four years, instead of one code cycle, according to the edited version from the council workshop.”

The council spent more than 30 minutes discussing the matter before about 20 people in the audience.

According to city documents, because of the recent economic downturn in the housing industry, the city is receiving many requests to extend active permits. The city’s Municipal Code does not allow the city to extend a permit more than one time for 180 days.

During a Feb. 10 meeting, Building Official Jerry Hight explained the intent is not to allow any permit to extend beyond one International Building Code (IBC) cycle.

IBC is a model building code developed by the International Code Council. It has been adopted throughout most of the United States and can change every three years.

Hight said if a permit were approved this month, with a new code cycle beginning in July 2009, the permit would remain active for a maximum of three more years and would expire when the next code cycle begins in 2012.

At the meeting, the council tabled the ordinance to the Community Development Committee, which was to review the issue Monday night.

During the Feb. 24 meeting, Bowen and Decker expressed their opposition against the revised ordinance.

Bowen said his major objection to the ordinance was that a building permit would “sunset” at the end of four years.

“We started out with one issue, now it has morphed into two issues,” Bowen explained. “I believe we should have dealt with his as two separate issues.”

He said he wasn’t aware the ordinance was coming before council and would have meet with Hight to clarify his thinking on the ordinance.

“I believe he is talking about one thing and I’m talking about something different,” Bowen explained. “My position is, why are penalizing the person who does not miss having their inspection?”

Decker said the ordinance showed two different directions.

“On one hand it shows us helping the builders and on the other hand, taking away some more rights,” he said.

Decker said the city has the right to extend a permit 100 years if that is what it takes to build a house. He believes it will take away a lot of rights for people who want to build a house at their leisure.

“Safety issues are not the problem. The problem is creating more revenue for the city and taking away individual rights if they don’t have it built in four and a half years,” Decker said. “They have to get a new permit and go through the process all over again.”

Decker said he was surprised that the proposed ordinance was on the agenda.

Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman asked Decker if he or his family has permits the ordinance would affect so that it would be a direct financial relationship between the passage of failing of the ordinance.

“I don’t know that, it that true?” Decker replied. “I have no idea if it is true or false.”

Swatman asked if the home Decker claims as his residence is currently subject to a building permit.

Decker said he didn’t have a permit in his name.

Swatman asked City Attorney Jim Dionne if there was a conflict of interest for a council member.

Dionne said the ordinance was for general application and not directed at any one certain permit. He feels that every council member has some interest in their property and is always affected by what the council votes on.

The city attorney said he didn’t feel a council member who has a permit is affected by this because it’s an ordinance, not a contract.

Councilwoman Laura Carter said the council had discussed the issue over the past few months and talked about the code cycles.

She said the city – in the past three weeks – sent five or six letters to individuals whose permits are soon to expire and five were cancelled in January.

“As time goes on, more and more people are going to be losing their permits,” Carter said. “I think we need to move on this.”

Swatman asked that the ordinance be voted on as written.

Bowen made a motion to amend the ordinance and Decker seconded it. Bowen made a motion for a five-minute recess, but it failed 4-3.

Bowen said his amended motion has inappropriate wording and asked for it to be changed. He withdrew his motion.

Decker said if the ordinace will “squash” all permits that exist and asked to amend the ordinance’s language from two years to six years on issuance and expiration of permits.

He stated that he didn’t recognize the language of the ordinance and claimed it was changed.

There was no second for Decker’s motion and it failed.

Swatman said ordinances can be easily modified, but Decker disagreed with the deputy mayor’s statement. “It’s very difficult to change or modify any ordinance,” Decker said.

Reach Dannie Oliveaux at doliveaux@courierherald.com or 360-820-8209.

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