South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Tom Smith
South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor 

Mt. Oliver to split building inspection duties

Fees reduced for 2021 on mechanical devices

 

Mt. Oliver Borough Council, at its February meeting, made a change in who will be doing the third-party plan review for building inspections.

Borough Manager Rick Hopkinson said a resolution before council was to appoint Henry A. Hegerle, P.E. to perform the administrative function of reviewing building inspections. The company currently performing the service, Building Inspection Underwriters (BIU) would continue to provide commercial and residential building inspections and rental and occupancy permit inspections.

Mr. Hopkinson said in the past the borough has had challenges with BIU, mostly in having the third-party plan reviews completed promptly. He added there are three current projects that are taking an excessive amount of time for the review, waiting as long as four months.

The borough has worked with Mr. Hegerle in the past, but chose to go with BUI when their previous building inspector retired. Mr. Hopkinson said one of the deciding factors was that BUI was a "one stop shop" and could do everything.

Mr. Hopkinson noted Mr. Hegerle had no qualms with BUI doing the other inspections. The borough manager added at some point he would like to bring all building inspections back "in-house."

Joe Calloway from RE360 testified his company has a project in the borough that has been delayed multiple times and for months while they waited for the plans to be reviewed.

The borough manager said, in the past, the experience with Mr. Hegerle has always been positive. Questioned on the length of the contract would be, Mr. Hopkinson said it could be indefinite, until Mr. Hegerle fully retires or when the borough decides to bring all building inspections in-house with their own inspector.

Mr. Hopkinson added they should work toward bringing building inspections in-house but could continue to use Mr. Hegerle until that time.

Council approved a resolution making the change in reviewing building inspections.

In other business, the borough was approached by Maxwell's Pub to reduce or waive the Mechanical Devices Fee for 2021 due to reduced and restricted usage during the pandemic.

"We don't have any requirement to do that, we're not obligated to do that, but it's something we could consider," Mr. Hopkinson said.

Borough solicitor Emily Mueller said there were several other communities in the area that have reduced or waived the fee in 2020 or 2021. She recommended that if the council decided to reduce or waive the fee, to do it for only one year, "to see what next year would bring."

Councilwoman Christina Reft questioned what the fees currently were and how much the borough received from those fees.

Mr. Hopkinson replied the highest fee was for pinball machines at $750 and jukeboxes and similar machines were $500. Last year the borough collected about $4,000 from the fees.

Mayor Frank Bernardini said everyone has suffered during the pandemic and said a reduction by a percentage would be reasonable.

After discussion, the council passed a resolution decreasing the 2021 fee for mechanical devices by 50 percent.

The council also approved a residential handicapped parking space on Sherman Street.

In Old Business, council members questioned if there were any updates on the Mt. Oliver Fire Department's request to be able to recover costs for its services using a billing service after incidents. The company would bill insurance companies for the type of apparatus needed, a charge built in to most insurance policies.

Mr. Hopkinson said they are still gathering information.

He was also questioned on when the new convenience store/restaurant in the 200 block of Brownsville Road would open. He said they are still proposing to open the convenience store under a Mercantile Use, but wouldn't be able to open the restaurant and sell alcohol without an A2 Assembly Use and showing they had met the minimum seating requirement.

Mr. Hopkinson said the borough should receive formal notice from the state when the liquor license is granted.

Before adjourning, councilmembers commended the borough Public Works Department for the "excellent" snow removal during recent storms.

Council President Amber McGough also wanted to remind residents there is a requirement for residents and businesses to clear their sidewalks of snow and could face fines for not doing so.

Mr. Hopkinson said citations were issued to those who didn't clear their sidewalks. He added there was one elderly person who said they were unable to shovel the snow and would appreciate some help.

Mayor Bernardini also referenced an incident with an Amanda Avenue resident where two borough police officers were threatened. He said the officers responded in an appropriate manner.

However, he added anyone who has a complaint should follow procedures.

"If they have a complaint, they can go through me or the chief of police or fill out a complaint form like they're supposed to," Mr. Bernardini said. He said he doesn't have a problem with people calling him.

"All residents, or non-residents, can file a complaint any time they want and we'll address it," he said.

 

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