Code office records can reveal much about questionable projects

It happens to everyone. At some point, everyone reaches a time when reason just doesn’t work. You try, you try hard, but no matter what you say or do, the other person just won’t listen.

Voices get a little louder, you repeat the same suggestion several times, offer a quick olive branch which is dismissed without rationale.

Then it happens… the temper flares up, lashes out and it’s done.

Good, bad or indifferent, it’s done. The phone gets slammed down because the conversation is over.

Then you realize you didn’t even get the guy’s name. Oh well, probably wouldn’t matter anyway, he just was not going to listen. He was convinced that everyone in this office had an agenda to screw him. It had to be that way because his neighbor was doing something that was prohibited by zoning and we would not let him do the same thing… therefore, obviously we were all a bunch of dishonest idiots out to get him.

Why bother coming into the office to look at the files? Is it possible that the answer may actually be in the file?

Is it possible that the neighbor, who is doing what he perceives as prohibited, is under an enforcement action to correct what is going on?

It’s amazing how we in the codes office find ourselves in the position of ticking-off everyone.

In the above case, we have a person building something different than what he got a permit for, and is now in the process of making corrections to fix the violation.

Of course he is not happy with the code office.

Then there is another neighbor who does not have a clue as to what is going on and simply assumes that, for whatever reason, this office is letting him get away with it.

After a rather long and aggressive summer season, full of lots of people who think the town and all the various departments are responsible for every problem and should resolve every insolvable dispute between neighbors, one would think calmness would finally arrive.

A time of the year when everyone has a task at hand, a job to do, business to attend to and things that need to be accomplished before the next busy season called winter finally arrives.

It is true, this time before winter there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Design professionals are cranking out plans, lots of plans. Land surveyors are busy gathering field information on dozens of projects and putting it down on paper. Contractors are lining up their favorite subs and are anxious to get things in the ground asap. Property owners can’t understand why the contractor hasn’t started yet.

The code office wants all kinds of information so a rational decision can be made for issuing permits. Everyone wants to be next. Some are patient, others expect instant gratification.

Although this article often speaks to the pressures in this office, there is no doubt that these pressures are felt throughout the entire chain of people involved in the process. Everyone has a job to do.

So we carry on. Take each day as it comes, doing the best we can. That’s all, nothing more, nothing less.

It is interesting how much can be accomplished when people just calm down, focus on the issue at hand, identify the course of action needed and move on. Yelling, screaming, not listening, slamming phones down really does not get anything done at all.

Because there are so many projects going on in various stages of completion, well over a thousand, it is sometimes challenging to remember each one in detail at the drop of a hat. Especially when the entire day is spent dealing with so many other more pending issues of getting people started with their new project.

So when someone calls with a specific complaint on a particular project while completely immersed in the details of another major project, it takes a few minutes to refocus.

To truly remember, we may even have to pull the file out… imagine that, we keep files! Thousands and thousands of them.

And by the way… when the house is built and attached to the garage, the violation will go away.

You are right; a detached garage should not exceed 18 feet tall, measured to the mean roof height.

But this guy has a permit to attach his garage to the new house which is under construction.

Therefore, the garage can be taller than 18 feet. This particular project was actually advertised and given a public hearing.

Again, you are invited into the office to see the file for yourself.

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