By Rupert Howell
Monday night’s meeting of the Panola County Land Use Commission was Chad Meek’s first meeting as the commission’s enforcement officer.
Meek had been named Flood Plain officer earlier in the day by Panola County supervisors, having served as interim following the resignation of Michael Purdy.
And while the board’s monthly meeting went off without hitches, next month’s meeting will include several public hearings that may have an affect on citizens for a while to come.
Hearings are being planned to consider requiring permits for all structures, including pre-built utility buildings, to better help Panola County comply with federal flood plain regulations. Those permits also help enforcement officers with insuring that structures comply with setbacks and waste water regulations according to Field Dew who serves as Regional Environmentalist with the Health Department.
Pre-built utility buildings have been approved for residential use only when brought to current building specifications according to Meek.
An additional hearing will address recreational vehicles according to Dew who said recommendations will include that an RV used for a residence, sit on the owner’s minimum size lot with waste water treatment, and forbids use for rental or storage.
Those hearings will be held along with a third hearing to gather comment on whether to adopt the International Code Council’s 2012 standards. Panola County and the City of Batesville are currently working under the 2006 code, Meek explained.
Meek said he would recommend that commissioners approve the updated code to stay in compliance with, “a small list of changes.”
Meek also recommended adopting a similar version of the code the City of Batesville is adopting, noting that it would be easier on contractors and builders to have the same set of standards throughout the county.
Meek attended Tuesday’s City of Batesville’s public hearing on the ICC Code and said many of his recommendations mirror those of Batesville’s.
He explained that the updated building code was very similar to one currently used but items such as sprinklers in residential and commercial buildings, arc-fault electrical breakers, and self closing doors between garages and living areas would add to the expense of building new homes.
Commissioner Danny Jones wondered aloud, “If we delete these items, aren’t we basically back to 2006 (International code)?”
The hearings are currently planned for August 11 at 6 p.m. at the courthouse in Sardis. Commissioners will take comments and possibly make recommendations to the board of supervisors who have final authority concerning changing the code and policies.
International Code Council’s standards also have an affect on insurance premiums, according to Meek.