Friday, December 13, 2013
FARMINGTON — Voters will decide Tuesday whether to streamline the permitting process for building a handicapped accessibility ramp or rail.
The proposal will allow the code enforcement officer to grant permission to build a ramp that's closer to the property line than the zoning ordinance allows. Currently, a home owner needs to get the permission of the board of appeals for the variance.
Voters will gather at a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the downstairs meeting room of the Town Office, to vote on the proposal to amend an ordinance.
Code Enforcement Officer Steve Kaiser said under the current ordinance, people occasionally need special permission to build accessibility ramps outside their homes.
Kaiser said this is because the local building codes don't allow additions to a home to be built too close to property lines, with the exact distance of the buffer zone depending on the municipal zone they live in.
Applying for approval through a municipal board can be a slow process involving public notice, and appearing before the board of appeals, Kaiser said. The new amendment would allow him to expedite the process.
Kaiser said one example of the ordinance's benefits would be if an elderly woman had a hip replacement and arranged for a local program to install an accessibility ramp at her home. He said instead of the woman having to schedule a meeting with the board, under the new ordinance she could get direct approval from him.
"It's a nice thing for someone who is elderly," he said.
The town is able to amend the ordinance because the Legislature passed a bill that streamlines the approval of accessibly structures during the session, which allows towns to authorize their code enforcement officers to issue permits without the board's approval.
The law was passed because when a person with a disability requires approval to build a ramp that improves access to a home, the delay in the approval process can pose significant hardship.
Voters at the special town meeting will also be voting to appropriate $14,000 from the unassigned fund balance to repair a failed sewer drain at the Town Office.
The connecting line from the Town Office to the sewer at times backs sewage into the basement, according to the meeting warrant.
Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252