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Fire marshal proposes changes to town’s tent code

Riverhead Town’s tent code is “rather vague” and applications often come in at the last minute, leading to inspections being done late on a Friday or the weekend, according to Chief Fire Marshal Craig Zitek.

Mr. Zitek proposed code changes at Thursday’s Town Board work session to make enforcement easier and so people know what they need to do.

“Last year in particular we had a number of issues,” he said.

One requirement would be for tent applications to come in a week in advance, Mr. Zitek said. That would allow time for processing and issuing a permit with time to do an inspection during normal business hours, he said.

The applications are only required for commercial uses.

Mr. Zitek said in the past it has led to increased overtime costs with doing inspections on weekends. And while there’s an inspector working on weekends now, that person may not always be available.

Applications received after the one week deadline would be assessed a penalty fee of double the permit fee, he said. Additional penalties would be assessed for an inspection done after normal business hours, if more than two inspections are required or for failing to schedule an inspection.

The current fees range from $175 up to $250 based on the size of the tent. For an event with multiple tents, the cost is to pay for the largest tent with each additional one costing $125.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she could see why an application comes in late if the party hosts realize the weather may not cooperate. Mr. Zitek said the hope is to avoid scrambling to get the inspection done, which is sometimes occurring just as an event begins.

“No one wants to tell a bride that she can’t have her wedding outside under a tent because the tent company hasn’t put the tent up correctly,” he said.

Ms. Giglio said the town’s current fees are low compared to Brookhaven Town.

The proposal will be discussed again before any changes are voted on.

Building permit fees

Riverhead Town’s senior building inspector pitched to Town Board members Thursday a proposal to increase building permit fees.

Andreas Sofoklis, who began the role about four months ago, said during the work session that fees have not been updated or changed since about 2004. He said the proposed changes aim to create a minimal impact on residents, while the overall scope would lead to more revenue for the town.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she had concerns because under state law, the town can’t impose impact fees based on a budget shortfall. Mr. Sofoklis responded by saying that the proposal wasn’t based off filling a budget shortfall.

“I based it on the fact that the inspections that are done, the work and time involved and everything else, it just doesn’t add up for what we have,” he said.

Councilwoman Catherine Kent said when the proposal was discussed in committee, economic problems were not part of the discussion.

“We’ve been finding over the last several years that a lot of the things have never been updated,” she said.

The proposed changes would increase a minimum building permit fee from $100 to $200. A swimming pool, which currently varies based on size, would be $250 for an above ground pool and $500 for an in-ground pool. A shed, which also currently varies by size, would be more specific, starting at $200 for under 144 square feet. It would be $400 for a shed between 144 and 500 square feet and then $800 for any shed above 500 square feet.

Board members agreed to circle back on the discussion once they had a more detailed spreadsheet of the fees surrounding towns currently use as a comparison.