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Sugar Grove village board discusses permit costs

SUGAR GROVE – If you’re looking to build a gazebo in your yard this year, it just got a little more affordable.

The Sugar Grove Village Board unanimously voted to approve a reduction to the minimum cost for a gazebo permit fee from $620 to $225.

A discussion on the cost of permit fees to residents took place during the board meeting June 19, and trustees weighed in on the appropriateness of certain permit fees and whether they were a deterrent to residents.

“I don’t think residents will want to pay the $120 for an inspection for a water heater,” Trustee Rick Montalto said. “I don’t think that price justifies 25 percent of the cost of the project. I’m not comfortable with the prices. I would be more comfortable if we had it in a form and have prices outlined.

“I’m OK with extra fees for coming back out for an inspection. If the fees for permits and inspections are affordable, more people will get the permits,” he said. “I’m guessing 75 percent of the people will just get a water heater installed without getting a permit.”

All water heaters require a permit in Sugar Grove, Community Development Director Walter Magdziarz informed the board.

“The issue is that people don’t think about the plumbing and exhaust connection,” Magdziarz said. “If you’re not exhausting carbon monoxide out of the house, it is a life safety issue. Not everyone that does their projects at home is as experienced as someone on our staff.”

At the heart of the issue are the rates being charged for the home improvement permits. Several village board trustees, including Village President Sean Michels, questioned whether the prices of permits needed to be re-evaluated.

“Do we need to look at permit fees?” Michels said. “Are we overestimating the cost? I don’t know if you base the permit fees into the budget. I think a lot of these line items need to be evaluated after a certain time.”

Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger informed the board that permit fees are being analyzed by the amount of time staff works to complete them.

“We are analyzing the time spent to calculate the cost of the permit,” Eichelberger said. “In some cases, there will be some that are easier than others. We are looking at the average. If we find a fee is too much or not enough, we could come back to the board.”

He added that despite the cost, Magdziarz told him that no one so far has questioned the fees.

“In our immediate area these fees are high, but when you expand to other areas, they aren’t,” Eichelberger said. “I think there are people who follow the rules and do it right [and they] are still going to get their permits. There are still going to be people who are still going to try and get away with not getting a permit. We are looking to cover the cost of providing the service. We ran a significant deficit in our budget last year. My point is we are doing it for safety, but there is a cost for providing that.”

Michels suggested discussing the cost of permits at a later date.