April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

Firefighters to pick up work again on new station

By HSJ Online [email protected]

Hope firefighters are going to be working again to open their new fire station on Aiken Street.

The Hope Town Council approved a request Tuesday from the Hope Volunteer Fire Department to renew a building permit at the 103 Aiken St. site and a waiver of building permit fees.

Fire Chief Randy Wood said the department was asking for the renewal to allow the department to move forward with the construction and eventually moving into the new station.

"We will have more room, and it will be a bigger and better place for the community too," Wood said. "We will be using qualified and licensed volunteers to do this, so that is all taken care of."

Tim Shoaf, the town's building and zoning administrator, recommended the council approve the request, saying the permit was needed for the work to begin and would also go along with state permits that have been approved.

Councilman Greg Sims asked about the inspection process for the new work and Shoaf said much of that would fall under state inspections.

Ed Johnson, a volunteer and former Columbus building inspector and licensed electrician, said that he would be overseeing the construction process and he would not sign off anything unless it was up to code. He said the necessary work would be done by licensed volunteers where required, such as plumbing or electricity, and pass inspection or he wouldn't have anything to do with it.

"This building needs to be finished so that they can get some use out of it," Johnson said. "If you are ever going to bring new businesses to town, you have got to have a building. You don't want the building sitting there empty."

The Town Council and fire department were locked in a dispute surrounding the new fire station for most of last year. The fire department had been sued by its contractor over payments on the station and the Town Council was reluctant to sign a contract with the fire department without more information on its financial stability. An agreement was signed last October between the town and the volunteers, but the fire department went almost all of last year without any payments from the town.

A new contract was signed in February.

The council voted unanimously to approve the permit renewal and fee waiver.

The fire department is also in the process of requesting $10,000 to $15,000 from the town's Economic Development Income Tax revenues to apply toward the completion of the project. That request is expected to be heard by the EDIT committee meeting next month.

In other business, the Town Council:

  • Approved a building permit and fee waiver for expansion of the Yellow Trail Museum.

  • Approved the use of the town park for the summer farmer's markets and for the Old-Fashioned Independence Day.

  • Gave final approval for a new animal care ordinance. A link to the ordinance is below.

  • Approved a new employee handbook and personnel policies that will go into effect May 1st. A link to the handbook is below.

  • Gave approval for the town's building and zoning administrator to make some simple, administrative lot changes as needed without having to go through the entire town approval process.

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