Electrical inspections could become a requirement

Buckhannon City Council is considering the adoption of a code requiring new or renovated commercial and residential structures to have an electrical inspection.

If the ordinance passes, the electrical inspections will be required to be performed only by licensed electricians in most circumstances. City Attorney David McCauley’s initial draft of the proposal would require that when renovations are made to existing structures and those renovations are done by the true owner or an immediate family member, they may be done by someone other than a licensed electrician. McCauley said city leaders should “strongly encourage all owners of all residential property to have all electrical work undertaken by a licensed electrician.

“I think it’s a very significant ordinance,” he said, adding that it is for the “safety of the citizens.”

Councilman Ron Pugh said that he thought the city should take the idea another step forward and consider a complete building code. He also said that a countywide building code should be considered by the Upshur County Commission.

“I think this is a great idea. I think it’s going to protect a lot of people and save a lot of lives,” Pugh said. “We may take some heat, but we have to buck up and take some of this stuff for the good of the citizens out there, whether we want to or not.”

The Buckhannon City Council and the Upshur County Commission have plans for a joint meeting on Aug. 29. Council members were considering items which could be discussed by the two governmental agencies, and they are thinking the adoption of a building code would be on the agenda.

“Our primary motivation is the safety to our residents, the shoppers, the commercial buildings, and also having a nice community which will impact the visitors and the people that live here,” Councilman Dave Thomas said.

The first reading of the proposed ordinance could come as early as Aug. 15.

The draft lists the inspection fees for commercial and residential properties. A commercial structure that costs $1 million would result in an inspection fee of $1,000. For a new residential structure, the fee would be determined by the square footage of the home. There would be a minimum fee of $150 for a 2,000 square-foot home, according to the proposal. Renovations to a structure would have a $100 fee for a licensed electrician, if the ordinance eventually passes.

In other business, council members reappointed McCauley as the city attorney and Dave Hinkle to the Solid Waste board for the 2013-2014 fiscal year by a 4-2 vote.

Thomas and Pugh voted against the appointments, but did so without offering a comment as to their reasons. Thomas asked to make a comment about the appointments in an executive session.