By Randy Bell
As it refused to approve a fence which was constructed in Clinton’s Olde Towne District without a permit, the Board of Aldermen sent a message: This has to stop.
“This is the third or fourth instance just in the last year of individuals moving ahead with constructing a project and then coming to the Board after the fact and asking for approval,” Alderwoman-at-Large Ricki Garrett said at the December 6 Board of Aldermen meeting.
“And I understand that it’s very hard to tell people that you have to tear down something that’s perhaps attractive, perhaps has added to the looks of a particular property. But if we don’t put a stop to this, we are going to have more and more and more of these cases,” Garrett said.
The aldermen approved the homeowner’s new picket fence but rejected a certificate of appropriateness for a wire fence surrounding other parts of the property on East Main Street, a home which Board members described as “spectacular” and “gorgeous.” The decision meant that the wire fence would have to be removed.
Ward 2 Alderman Jim Martin wants the City to take a stronger stance against those who fail to get the necessary permits before doing improvements. He asked Director of Community Development Roy Edwards to suggest a penalty that could be added to the zoning ordinance on top of what the City now imposes, which is doubling the permit fee from $50 to $100.
Edwards said permits are required for all kinds of work, in addition to fence building.
“Roofing, that’s another one, tree cutting. If you’re doing any work, the best thing to do is call and verify it, if there’s any doubt,” said Edwards]
He said most roofers are aware of the requirements, “but there are still homeowners that don’t know, and someone will come in and offer to replace their roof without them coming in and pulling a permit.”
Edwards said a permit is needed to cut or trim trees, unless the work is done by the homeowner. Trees companies have to be bonded and registered with the City. Those requirements were implemented several years ago, after a tornado which hit Clinton was followed by a storm of complaints about some shady contractors who moved in to do repairs and tree work.
“There was so much trouble with those coming through, skipping out without finishing the work or not cleaning up behind themselves as they finished the jobs,” Edwards said.
Any sort of structural improvement will need a permit.
“And depending on what district [you’re in], there may be other architectural elements that we have to look at first before permitting.”
As for the proposed penalty for violators, Edwards said he’ll be studying how other jurisdictions handle those situations.
“We’ll be looking to see what we can do to stop a little bit of that.”
Homeowners planning improvements or changes to their house or property should contact the City’s Community Development Department at 601-924-2256 before starting any work, to make sure that any required approvals or permits are obtained first, either by the homeowner or the contractor.
The City of Clinton requires permits for many of the improvements people make to their homes, including:
- Any structural repair or modifications including additions and remodeling,
- Roof replacement,
- Foundation repair,
- Tree cutting or trimming (if done by a contractor),
- Electrical repair or adding circuits,
- Gas line repair or new line installation,
- Sewer repair/replacement,
- Storage/accessory buildings including portable storage units,
- Swimming pools, and
Minor repairs/improvements which don’t require a permit include:
- Sheetrock work,
- Cabinets, and
- Window/door replacement.
Property located within the City’s historic districts (residential and commercial) faces additional requirements to ensure that any changes are in keeping with the character of the original architectural design and features. A Certificate of Appropriateness is required for:
- Any changes to the exterior of the property, including changing exterior paint color,
- Demolition of structures, and
- Cutting of live trees measuring 12 inches in diameter or more.
(Source: City of Clinton Department of Community Development)
EDITOR’S NOTE: This list is NOT all-inclusive.