Bath approves water project and new building permits
The Town of Bath Council approved proceeding with a $2,465,000 water line replacement project at the Tuesday evening, December 4 meeting.
The proposed Phase III of the water line replacement project would replace water mains under Washington Street from Fairfax Street to Williams Street, under Fairfax Street from South Green Street to the old War Memorial Hospital and under U.S. 522 from Route 9 east to Myers Street.
The project would also paint and recondition the water towers at Myers Street and the old hospital, make improvements to the telemetering system, and replace doors, windows and add a new HVAC system at the water plant.
Mayor Susan Webster said, and the council agreed, the work would only proceed if it could be done without a rate increase to Berkeley Springs Water Works customers.
Engineer Randy Watson of Thrasher Engineering in Clarksburg has presented the town with a funding proposal that does not include a water rate increase.
Chief Water Operator Terry Largent told the mayor and council the proposal calls for a $1 million loan at 1% interest over 38 years from the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council (WVIJDC), $565,000 from the Berkeley Springs Water Department’s repair and replacement budget and a $900,000 grant from the WVIJDC.
Webster said she felt the plan was feasible because water rates are now high enough for the town to qualify for the grant. She said the project would take about two years.
Councilman Ken Easton said he spoke to Watson who told him the money was available.
Discussion and vote
“All the experts have done a good job convincing me that we need to continue or there wasn’t much sense in what we have done to date,” Easton said as he motioned to proceed with the project. Councilman Scott Merki seconded the motion.
Councilman Andy Swaim asked Largent if there was a problem with the funding required from the water department’s repair and replacement budget.
“Right now I don’t see a problem,” Largent said. He went on to explain if the bids come in higher than estimated, the project could be scaled back to fit the available funding.
The council voted unanimously to proceed with Phase III of the water line replacement project as proposed.
In other business, Largent announced the West Virginia Public Service Commission has lifted the moratorium on new water taps.
New building permit procedure
The council held the second reading and a vote on amendments to the town’s building permit ordinance designed to streamline the process.
The new procedure identifies four classifications of building permits; (1) Emergency Repairs, (2) Routine Home Maintenance and Repairs, (3) Additions/Improvements not included in Current Property and (4) New Construction and Flood Plain Area Work.
For classifications 1 and 2, building permits will be issued immediately on proper application request and fee payment. The Town Council will be notified at the next scheduled meeting of the issuance of the permit.
For classification 3, the permit will be issued after a minimum of one reading at a scheduled town council meeting. The council may at its discretion wave a second reading.
For classification 4, the permit will only be issued after a minimum of two readings at scheduled town council meetings and only after all flood plain issues have been addressed by the Morgan County Flood Plain Coordinator.
The new procedure sets a rate of $20 for a permit covering the first estimated $15,000 of work and an additional $1 for each $1,000 above.
Contractors are required to have a valid town business license. A West Virginia Business Registration Certificate and a State License are required to obtain a town business license.
Fines for falsifying information on a building permit request or working without a building permit are $100 flat penalty fee for classifications 1 and 2 and $100 penalty fee for the first day of infraction plus $50 each day thereafter until work stops and proper permit procedures are followed.
The Town of Bath Police Chief is responsible for the issuance and enforcement of building permits.
Town resident Dean Maxwell suggested adding demolition to the list of work requiring a building permit. The council agreed to add demolition under classifications 1, 3 and 4.
The council then voted unanimously to approve the ordinance as amended.
A copy of the ordinance is available at the town office.