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Archive for Tuesday, January 21, 1992

BUILDERS OPPOSE NEW SETBACK PLAN

January 21, 1992

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Members of a local homebuilders group hope to derail discussion by the Lawrence City Commission tonight of a proposed policy to ensure builders meet city setback requirements.

"We're going to have a couple of guys there tonight to try and get the recommendations deferred so we can get them revamped a little bit," said Bob Santee, president of the Lawrence Homebuilders Assn.

Under the recommendations, a licensed land surveyor or professional engineeer would have to certify that lot boundaries and setbacks are marked correctly before a builder can get a building permit. Setbacks are designed to allow easements for future utility and street work.

City inspectors would check the boundaries as construction begins. A surveyor or engineer would have to check the boundaries again before the building is completed.

The recommendation was made by city officials in response to an increasing number of requests for zoning exemptions by builders.

However, Santee said the problems with building into setback areas could be solved in a simpler fashion.

IF ADOPTED by the commission, the recommendations would require two visits by a licensed surveyor or professional engineer to check lot boundaries and the setback requirements for the structure.

Santee proposed that the commissioners figure out a suitable penalty for building onto setbacks that would make builders think twice before beginning construction.

"The penalty wouldn't have to be money, but that seems to be what gets the most attention," he said. "We should just make it clear that there are consequences."

He proposed that commissioners, local builders and city building inspectors work together to formulate a new policy to prevent setback violations.

He said the best time to check lot and building boundaries is right before builders begin pouring concrete for the foundation.

"You just need to make sure the building is in the right place," he said.

Santee said it didn't make much sense to recheck boundaries as the building is being completed. "What's that going to accomplish?" he said.

CITY OFFICIALS have championed the recommendations as an almost failsafe plan for avoiding more setback mishaps.

"Basically we're checking the builders, and engineers are checking us," Gene Shaughnessy, chief building inspector, said Thursday.

He said that most problems occur when pins and stakes used in new construction are accidentally moved and replaced in the wrong position, which might not be detected without a survey.

Shaughnessy could not be reached today for a response to Santee's complaints.

The city commission meeting begins at 6:35 tonight in the city commission meeting room at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.

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