Municipality Waives Permit Fees For Storm-Related Repairs

During the November 15th municipal meeting, the governing body voted on and unanimously approved by a 4-0 vote the waiving of permit fees for those property owners who suffered damages related to Storm Sandy and will be conducting repairs. Councilmen Andrew Casais and Michael Yakubov were absent from the meeting due to work schedules.

In beginning the discussion for Resolution 224-12, Borough Attorney Richard Huxford stated, “I think it just needs to be made clear that it’s only to houses that were damaged from the Hurricane; not every house can get that benefit, only the ones that suffered damage by Hurricane Sandy.”

Mayor Joseph Accardi asked if the fee waivers would apply only to the 38 houses that had trees on them or would they apply to any house that claims damage and can document it through insurance claims, photographs, or other relevant records. Mr. Huxford replied that such a decision would be up to the governing body as to whether they would want to limit it to the houses that were damage from the trees or if they want to include anyone that had damage. The governing body opted to use the same criteria as last year’s fee-waiving resolution for Hurricane Irene. Council-At-Large Carl Hokanson stated, “I agree because we may have houses damaged by a tree which we know but due to high winds, parts of roofs came off – which trees didn’t do – so anything that legitimately attributed to Sandy I think we should [include].”

“So some proof of damage, some material proof of damage, would be the measure,” Mayor Accardi stated, “which is a subjective measure in essence but I think that that’s the way we have to do it to be fair to everybody.”

The mayor, whose residence was one of the houses that had a tree fall on it, added, “There’s a slew of different issues that need to be addressed and we just want to make sure we’re doing it fairly. We don’t wanting somebody building an addition on their house as a result of this and having the permit fee waived for that.”

Councilwoman Tanya Torres added, “I’m glad you said that. If someone had a little thing on the back and was suddenly like, ‘well I was going to do the addition next year anyway and since the tree crushed it I’m forced to do it now’. That doesn’t apply. It’s just for repair.”

She added that resolution only address the waiving of the permit fees. Those needing to address storm-related repairs still need to come to Borough Hall and apply for permits so that proper inspections can take place.

Resolution 225-12 dealt with permitting a flexible schedule for inspections of storm-damaged repairs for a period not to exceed 60 days. The mayor stated that if there was a 2-2 tie, he would not be able to vote to break the tie due to he being someone who might apply for such a permit. Council-At-large Hokanson replied, “If there’s a 2-2 tie, we’ve got a problem.”

Borough Clerk Doreen Cali read the resolution and it was approved unanimously.

With Chief Financial Officer Ken Blum returning to council chambers with Resolution 1776-11, the governing body re-opened Resolution 224-12 to amend the wording to reflect the wording from that resolution. Last year’s resolution limited the waiving of fees to those related to electrical, plumbing and mechanical only. That section was removed and the amended resolution, which read ‘Be it resolved that Mayor & Council of the borough of Roselle Park hereby authorize the waiving of permit fees for storm-damage repairs. Fees which will be waived shall be limited to 60 days from the day of the storm, October 30, 2012’ was voted on and approved unanimously again.

The Borough Clerk asked about the waiving of fees for permits to get a dumpster. At this point, Mayor Accardi recused himself from the discussion and temporarily left the room; again due to the fact that he would have to apply for a dumpster fee. Council President Modesto Miranda took over for the meeting and there was a discussion on what turned out to become Resolution 226-12, which stated that dumpster permit fee shall be waived for all individuals applying for resolution 224-12 for a period of 60 days.

Again, it was re-iterated that residents would still have to apply for the permit but that the $20 fee, according to Borough Code 23-4.4, would be waived. The resolution was approved unanimously.

Permit fees for storm-related damage repairs will be waived until December 29, 2012. Anyone with further questions can contact their council representative or call Borough Hall at (908) 245-6180.