The city of Clarksburg is taking steps to align the practices of its code enforcement office with the state code as desired by the state Fire Commission.
On Thursday, city council approved an ordinance on first reading repealing parts of its code and enacting code entitled "Adoption of State Code and Supplemental Regulations; Building Permits" and amending a title from "Building Code" to "Code Administration"
According to City Attorney Greg Morgan, part of the state Fire Commission's reasoning for filing a complaint against the office and subsequently ordering a cease and desist of all practices involves the fact Clarksburg's ordinance simply stated it would adopt the state code as it was updated rather than updating to read exactly as the revised code does.
"Our intent has always been to utilize the latest versions of building code but now we're going to adopt the most current ones now," Morgan said. "Every time they come out with newer versions, we're going to have to go through this exercise."
Other changes being made include changing definitions to align with what the Fire Commission has requested and returning the number of members on the Building Code Appeals Board to five from the previous three the city had.
"We've done this based on the complaint," Morgan said. "I don't want to say this is an olive branch but this is a good faith gesture to the Fire Commission to say we'd like to get this resolved amicably. It is not an admission that we think we've done anything wrong. In fact, we don't think we've done anything wrong."
The cease and desist order issued by the Fire Commission remains in place, while late last week the city was made clear this does not apply to issuing building permits, it still cannot enforce any building code. This ranges from work with the demolition program to making sure trash is dealt with properly.
The commission has stated if Clarksburg adopts the proper state code, the cease and desist order can be lifted and this is the goal of the city.
"We want to get back in the business of doing code enforcement and doing all the things we've always done," Morgan said. "Whether the cease and desist order is valid or not, we're not going to fight about that right at the moment. We're going to try to get this resolved by agreement if we can."
In the letter addressed to Clarskburg Mayor Catherine Goings last week sent on behalf of the Fire Commission clearing up the issue of building permits while the cease and desist order is in place, Stephen Connolly, Assistant Attorney General wrote his hope the two sides could work together to resolve the matter.
The city said it is taking steps to accomplish this. A copy of the ordinance was sent to Connolly for the Fire Commission's counsel to look over and the city is hoping to open the lines of communication.
"We requested a meeting with the Assistant Attorney General representing the Fire Commission," Morgan said. "At least of phone conference with the lawyers."
The ordinance will be on second and final reading at the council's first meeting in August.