Fire marshal seeks to tighten regulations

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 4, 2011

By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY ó The countyís proposed fire prevention and protection ordinance would result in more fees for developers and businesses and more fines for dangerous behavior.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the new ordinance at 4 p.m. Tuesday on the second floor of the J. Newton Cohen Sr. Rowan County Administration Building.
Tom Murphy, the county fire marshal, said his office has been working for 18 months to bring Rowan County in line with surrounding local governments and the state fire code.
ěWeíve been gathering information from other municipalities and counties, seeing what other folks are doing,î Murphy said. ěWe basically put ours together using what they had.î
If commissioners pass the ordinance as written, the fire marshalís office would begin charging fees for construction permits and operational permits.
ěMost of the developers that come in… that are submitting plans, they expect to pay a fee for a permit, because they do everywhere else,î Murphy said. ěWe tried to keep the (proposed) fees either at or below what other folks are doing.î
The ordinance also would clarify the countyís rules ó and set fines to enforce them ó regarding fireworks, pyrotechnic displays, open burning, occupancy limits, fire lanes, fire hydrants and other related issues.
Fire inspections, which used to be the domain of the planning department, would still be free unless a violation is not corrected when the inspector returns.
Also Tuesday, the board will consider a request from the sheriffís office for a new deputy position costing $90,787 in the first year, including equipment costs, and $49,012 each year afterward in salary and benefits.
The position would be funded through civil process fees, wrote Sheriff Kevin Auten in a memo to County Manager Gary Page.
Beginning Aug. 1, a state law increased the fee for service of process in civil cases from $15 to $30. This should boost the revenue the county collects in sheriffís fees from about $150,000 to about $300,000, Auten wrote.
Also at Tuesdayís meeting, commissioners plan to:
Hold a public hearing for amendments to the countyís zoning and flood damage prevention ordinances.
Some changes would allow more special permitted uses in rural agricultural and neighborhood business districts. These include mini-warehousing, vocational training, day cares, coin-operated laundrys and tax return services.
Hold a public hearing Tuesday for the designation of Zion Organ Lutheran Church, located at 1515 Organ Church Road, as a historic landmark. The designation would include the propertyís stone church, Sunday school building, council building and cemetery.
ěZion Organ Lutheran Church is the oldest church structure in Rowan County and the oldest Lutheran church in North Carolina,î wrote Reid Walters of the Historic Landmarks Commission in a memo to commissioners.
Consider final approval of a conditional use permit allowing Davidson County Broadcasting to build a 1,200-foot radio tower in Mount Ulla.
Hear a presentation of county health rankings by County Health Director Leonard Wood and Rowan Regional Medical Center President Dari Caldwell.
Authorize the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council to apply for $89,619 in state funds for a Rowan County Youth Services Bureau proposal to provide trama-focused therapy to 30 high-risk youth.
Consider several board appointments.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
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