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Archive for Monday, July 18, 1994

CITY TO DEBATE MECHANICAL CODE

July 18, 1994

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Three years of work on changes to mechanical licenses comes to the Lawrence City Commission on Tuesday night.

Requiring city licenses for mechanical contractors could spare Lawrence homeowners grief, inconvenience and money when it comes to heating and air-conditioning work, the city's chief building inspector said.

The new licenses, proposed by the city's mechanical board of appeals, would ensure that anyone installing or replacing heating and air-conditioning units would have at least a basic working knowledge of the trade, said Gene Shaughnessy, chief building inspector.

Contractors would be more likely to get their work right the first time, he said.

"It's a pretty sophisticated situation, and we want to make sure sophisticated people are doing the work," he said.

Several proposed amendments to the city's Uniform Mechanical Code, more than three years in the making, will be open for public debate during Tuesday night's Lawrence City Commission meeting.

The license requirements easily are the most contentious, Shaughnessy said.

Established contractors generally favor the move, he said, because it would give them the professional respectability already enjoyed by their electrical and plumbing counterparts, who have needed licenses to operate in Lawrence for more than 25 years.

Apartment-complex owners have opposed the licensing scheme, however, fearing that their maintenance workers no longer would be able to conduct routine fix-up jobs without first completing complicated training, Shaughnessy said.

Changing a filter wouldn't require a licensed worker, he said, but replacing a furnace or replacing an air conditioner would.

License fees would range from $4 to $200 the first year, plus another $4 to $50 a year for renewals. Contractors also would be required to carry at least $300,000 in insurance, to cover for incomplete or inadequate work.

Mayor Jo Andersen, a former cabinet maker, said she was keeping an open mind about the proposed change.

"For a small construction company, any additional malarkey you have to go through is a burden," she said. "But if it's worth it and it'll help people, then we should do it."

The meeting begins at 6:35 p.m. at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.

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