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Niskayuna eyes new price structure for permit fees

Monday, February 17, 2014
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— The Niskayuna Town Board may change its permit fee structure to differentiate between some commercial and residential projects, town officials said.

The Town Board is expected to consider the proposal at its meeting next week. The proposal is to center on three separate building permits: roofing, demolition and renewal fees.

Those fees are currently the same, whether the project is a commercial project or a residential project.

Town Supervisor Joe Landry said that the proposal reflects the added attention commercial projects need from town building inspectors.

“Mostly it’s because of the work involved,” Landry said. “The time it takes and the size of the projects.”

Changing the fees was a topic of a Town Board committee meeting earlier this month, with officials noting that the town’s demolition permit, for instance, is currently $50. It’s the same fee whether the structure being demolished is a small shed or a large restaurant like the old Friendly’s.

Roofing projects are also treated similarly, whether it’s a large commercial roof or a small residential roof.

“The fees are not finalized right now, but we’re looking at it and tying to separate it where we hadn’t done that before, because of the effort needed by inspectors on the more complicated commercial projects,” Landry said.

At the committee meeting, Town Planner Kathy Matern noted that a residential roof gets one visit from an inspector. If there were problems to fix, it would get a second visit. Large commercial projects get multiple visits.

The permit for a $1 million roofing project costs just $150 now, Matern said.

“It’s different than residential,” Matern told the committee. “That’s why I don’t want to touch residential.”

The proposed fee structure has yet to be finalized. At the committee meeting, members looked at how nearby towns calculate the fees.

Regarding demolition fees, Matern said Glenville’s fees are based on value of the demolition, while Rotterdam’s are based on the square footage of the building being demolished.

Given that choice, committee members agreed that a square-footage-based fee would be best because it’s easier to check than a value-based fee.

The town is also looking to increase building permit renewal fees. Permits are issued for one year, then can be renewed every six months. The proposal is to increase the fees to renew to encourage project completion. Matern, though, noted that it is rare that commercial projects last long enough to need their permits renewed.

 
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