Land Commission

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 16, 2008

Land Commission studies inspections for structures

By Billy Davis

Panola County’s land commission has set a goal to recommend building codes to county supervisors within 90 days.

Discussion of building codes fell under old business during the commission meeting Monday evening, continuing a topic that picked up speed last year when Panola County led the state in fire-related deaths.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

 “By adopting codes you can and do save lives,” Blake Meredith, a Tunica County inspector, told the commission Monday night.

Meredith, who had been invited to address the commission, described the basics of a new home inspection in Tunica County. He also used his appearance to encourage the commission to inspect older mobile homes, saying Tunica County does not inspect them.

“I know of seven (mobile homes) in Tunica that scare me to death,” he said of the trailer homes.

Per federal law, newer models pass a thorough inspection, he said, and Tunica County checks the exterior of those mobile homes for proper gas, electrical and plumbing hook-ups.

The state of Mississippi has a set a $100 fee for mobile home inspections, Bob Barber, commission consultant, told the commission.

Regarding inspection fees for new homes, Meredith said those fees are typically set according to a home’s square footage. The contractor pays the fee when he pulls the permit then passes the cost to the homeowner, he said.

Inspections of home additions kick in when the addition is 50 percent of the home, he also said of Tunica County’s regulations.

Commissioners briefly discussed the cost of operating an inspection office, agreeing to provide an estimated cost to supervisors. Tunica County’s inspection office includes two inspectors and a secretary, but Meredith did not provide an annual cost for the office.

Commissioners also discussed the public perception of implementing building codes, hoping that the public would view the codes as help for homeowners.

“I believe people will say about the codes what they said about the commission. First it was ‘don’t do this to us,’ then it was, ‘Please protect us,’” said Danny Jones.

“It’s long overdue,” said Tim Holliday, a plumber. “I run into problems too often where I have to tear up what somebody else did.”

Bob Haltom suggested, and the commission agreed, that Barber return next month with a set of code standards as a “starting point,” and also provide code enforcement standards in neighboring counties.

The commission also welcomed its newest member, Johnny Fowler. Fowler was appointed by first-term Supervisor Gary Thompson to fill the tenth slot on the commission.