CHINA: Board approves codes officer’s request for fines

by Mary Grow

China Codes Officer Paul Mitnik recommended and selectmen, at their July 24 meeting, accepted guidelines for monetary penalties for ignoring the state’s Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code (MUBEC) requirements.

Mitnik’s major problem – which he said is infrequent – is that contractors or homeowners fail to call him for the inspections MUBEC requires at different stages of a building, like the foundation, the framing and the insulation.

When Mitnik finds a violation has occurred, the law empowers him to take down enough of the new construction to do the inspections. He prefers not to use this option, he said; he is more likely to ask questions to try to determine if the work was done to code and to ask selectmen to approve a consent decree with a monetary penalty.

The guidelines are intended to make monetary penalties more consistent. The maximum Mitnik recommends is $500 for an uninspected foundation; the minimum, no fine at all if he can do an after-the-fact inspection, for example for a garage with framing still visible.

If Mitnik believes the violation is deliberate he can double the penalties; and some penalties, notably the $100 for ignoring a stop-work order, are imposed every day of the violation, rather than being one-time. Board members unanimously approved the guidelines.

In other business July 24, selectmen unanimously accepted the higher of two bids for the woods truck formerly used by the Weeks Mills volunteer fire department, $3,500 from a Madison resident.

On a 4-1 vote, with Ronald Breton opposed, they pre-approved an additional tract in Thurston Park for selective timber harvesting, conditional on the Thurston Park II Committee recommending the additional work. The committee and the selectboard previously approved cutting in four areas, totaling about 39 acres; the new area, as shown on a map distributed at the meeting, appears to be about five acres.

The map indicates that the work is about half done. Income from the harvest will go into a fund to support park expenses.

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee member Tom Michaud told selectmen the committee asked three engineering firms for designs for a replacement bridge on Causeway Road at the head of China Lake. He hopes to have designs before the selectmen’s Aug. 7 meeting.

Selectmen unanimously appointed Dawn Castner a member of the China for a Lifetime Committee.

They signed the annual state road certification form, promising that $54, 200 in state road funds will be used for capital improvements. Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux said China annually spends several times that amount on paving and other capital expenditures.


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