WILMINGTON — Clinton County will restart a Residential Board of Appeals, the prior one having been dormant for an estimated 13 or 14 years.
Exactly what form the board will take will be under consideration for the next couple weeks. The options are to have the Board of County Commissioners fill that function, or a body of volunteers with experience related to the building trades.
“If someone came in tomorrow and wanted to file an appeal, we wouldn’t have a board for them to come and plead their case to. We want to correct that before it happens,” Clinton County Building & Zoning official Walt Daniel said Monday to county commissioners.
A Residential Board of Appeals provides home builders or electricians or HVAC workers an opportunity to appeal a building inspectors decision, said Daniel. Such a board is required by law, he added.
He gave an example of a Warren County case where a home builder appealed the inspectors’ decision to reject a handrail that was wider than the Ohio Building Code allows.
For the sake of grasping a handrail, the Ohio Building Code states that handrails cannot be more than 2¼ inches wide. The handrail in question was 5½ inches wide poured concrete — very similar to what the Clinton County Courthouse has with the balusters coming up in a wide handrail, Daniel said.
This builder had the ability to go to the board and explain that in this particular case there were a small number of steps — four or five — going out to a patio and a hot tub, and that it would be very expensive to tear up, said Daniel.
Warren County’s Residential Board of Appeals is comprised of the Warren County commissioners, and the commissioners OK’d the 5½-inch wide handrail, overriding the Building Department.
After hearing Daniel’s presentation, Clinton County Commissioner Patrick Haley said if the Clinton County commissioners were to serve as the Residential Board of Appeals, they would to a certain extent need to consult experts in the building trades anyway, and to him, it makes sense to have people with that expertise on the board to begin with.
Clinton County Commissioner Brenda K. Woods said she agreed with Haley given the type of questions that would come before the board. She added it would be fine if there were to be one commissioner on the board if not enough people with the relevant background were willing to serve.
Clinton County Commissioner President Kerry R. Steed wondered how orientation would be provided to the new board members, and where to obtain a description of “the duties and abilities to rule on certain things” in recruiting potential board applicants.
Daniel said inspectors who turn down the construction work that is the subject of an appeal attend the Residential Board of Appeals meeting, and bring their code book to show the basis of their decision.
On Monday, commissioners also continued their discussion on trying to find more space for county departments, in particular the Board of Elections, the Common Pleas Adult Probation Department, and the County Auditor.
Steed said there is a lot of available space at the County Annex facility on South Nelson Avenue on Wilmington’s west end. He calculated a total of 2,500 square feet of open space there, not counting open offices at the County Administration Building on East Sugartree Street where the Bureau of Motor Vehicles is located.
Woods said the Board of Elections’ need in essence is for space to store equipment. She also said an option for Adult Probation staffers could be the current locations of the Tax Map and GIS departments on the courthouse’s first floor.
She added she’s “frustrated” that a previously floated idea where the Board of Elections would move to the County Annex Building — which she described as a perfect setup for the elections department — got a negative reaction from the elections board.
Steed followed that by saying the board of elections “doesn’t have a link with another office in the courthouse” such that separate sites would create an operations issue.
At one juncture, Steed said he is against spending more than a total of $250,000 in addressing the space problems of the various county departments.
Haley said commissioners need to make some decisions on the matter soon. Two considerations that are primary for him, he said, are cost and practicality.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.