Roanoke council tables raising permit fees

The Roanoke Town Council tabled an amendment to the current Roanoke Zoning Ordinance, Section 360, which would raise fees charged for permits and other construction-related government expenses at their meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

The new ordinance, proposed by the Huntington Countywide Department of Community Development, would override Roanoke's current policy, which allows most temporary signs to be placed without a permit free of charge.

The DCD's proposed amendment is a countywide change that would charge the same $10 fee for for-profit organizations and businesses to display signs in Huntington County. In addition to the signs, fees for billboards and other construction-related applications would also change.

"I think (the ordinance) is excessive government intrusion," said Brian Secor, president of the Roanoke Board of Zoning Appeals. "If Huntington wants to do that, that's great, but I don't think there should be a permit."

The council also discussed how the amendment would be made compulsory.

"I think it would be extremely difficult to enforce," said Roanoke Clerk/Treasurer Jo-Anne Kirchner.

Bryn Keplinger, assistant director of the DCD, said that the increase in fees is due to the department losing money each time a permit is issued.
Each time the DCD issues a permit, the department incurs fees including those for placing legal ads, sending notices to neighbors and paying for department employees to visit and inspect the job site to make sure the site complies with state and local regulations.

"The fees are being raised so that the citizens of Huntington County don't have to subsidize (construction and permits) through taxes," Keplinger said.

Keplinger said the original ordinance was written in the mid-1980s, and the new amendment will ensure that individuals and businesses that apply for permits will pay more of the cost of the DCD issuing a permit, instead of that department absorbing the cost not covered though fees.

The ordinance was also discussed at the Huntington County Commissioners meeting on Monday, Nov. 30, and will be the subject of a public hearing.

According to the DCD, Huntington County's permits are not as expensive as in other Indiana counties.

"We're currently at the low end, but not the lowest," said Nate Schacht, director of the DCD.

The Roanoke Town Council decided to table a decision on accepting or rejecting the amendment, and sent a letter to the DCD suggesting the ordinance be changed to exclude temporary signs from permits and fees.