Cape may alter rules for licenses

Friday, November 2, 2007

Cape Girardeau's rules for licensing contracts and construction permits may get tougher.

When the eight-member board meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday it will review small but significant changes in who needs a license for construction work and how permits will be issued.

The city's board of examiners is responsible for the licensing code, reviewing qualifications for skilled trade workers and sponsoring licensing tests.

"The old ordinance was kind of vague," said Tim Pinkley, a journeyman plumber on the board of examiners.

Among the changes:

* Apprentices must be licensed. Tim Morgan, Cape Girardeau's inspector, said the provision has been in the ordinance in the past, but without a licensing process, it could not be enforced.

* Apprentices will be required to register by July 1 of each year and pay a $15 fee, a first, Morgan said. The cost of a full building trade license remains at $35.

* Contractors must provide the city with a list of licensed employees assigned to a job site.

* The proposed fine schedule for those who allow their professional licenses to expire would be: $10 for renewing in the first 30 days; $20 for renewing 31 to 60 days after a license expires; and $30 for those renewing a license 61 to 90 days after expiration. Beyond 90 days, a license would not be reissued without the person going through a full examination. Currently, the fine for renewing within 30 days of expiration is $10, and increases by $10 for each passing month.

Dan Stitz, a master plumber who has served on the board of examiners for more than five years, said he is still reviewing the latest draft of the proposed changes, but would have liked to see higher fines in this provision.

* Trade workers licensed by other cities will be allowed to work on local buildings, unless that license is expired. In that case, the individual would have to follow Cape Girardeau's license renewal requirements, which may include a trip to the board of examiners. In the past, a trade worker could renew the license in the city without undergoing the examination process.

* The new ordinance reflects a new standard agency, the International Code Council. The ICC resulted from the merger of Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA National) with two other regional code organizations. The ICC promotes building standards for structural safety and fire prevention.

ICC spokesman Steve Daggers said the organization suggests minimum safety standards that allow individual communities some flexibility.

"You have national standards, plus you don't have the federal government forcing something on you with no funding," he said.

Stitz said another key language change requires homeowners to prove they will occupy a single-family dwelling being remodeled. He said in some cases, permits are given to people who actually intend to remodel and resell a home, a practice called flipping, or to those who plan to rent the home.

According to Morgan, only single-family homeowners are allowed to perform their own home renovations, which must meet city codes.

"If they are putting a member of the public in there, licensed contractors must be used," he said.

Cape Girardeau's board of examiners will have a public hearing on the proposed ordinances at 7 p.m. Wednesday at city hall, 401 Independence St.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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