By Jean Braithwaite
Tribune Correspondent
KEYSER — Obtaining building permits for commercial structures in the county may change in the future and could copy the same type of rules set forth in Hampshire County.
Assistant West Virginia State Fire Marshal Mike Trabert had a message for the members of the Mineral County Planning Commission at their meeting last Tuesday evening, and he offered them information “on how to have a review of plans by the state fire agency as a prerequisite for county permits.”
He said the difference with the building permits would mean “commercial properties ready for construction or having a change of occupancy” would submit architectural plans to the state fire marshal’s office for review before the permit is issued.
“This would get us out there to inspect the structures,” Trabert said, also citing that most commercial buildings do meet code requirements.
He did mention throughout this area there are examples of commercial buildings which
 have not yet received a “certificate of occupancy.”
The certificate means all state building code requirements are in place.
Telling about areas of inspection  which are needed before occupancy can take place, he named electrical “by a licensed electrician,” along with fire alarm, sprinkler, plumbing, and kitchen system.
Giving the size of a commercial building that is more than 7,600 square feet, Trabert stated the plans for structure “would require an architect or engineer to prepare the plans.”
County Planner Scott Clay said  the present set of ordinances concerning building construction states, “No permit is required for any interior work.”
Jennie Shaffer stated a checklist was needed “before a building permit is issued,” to ensure required inspections would happen on the structure’s systems.
In addition, she said, “Variations of original plans could be detected” with ongoing inspections.
Adding to this, Kolin Jan pointed out there are no “checks and balances” when plans are not submitted to the state fire office.
Trabert suggested the planning commission “get a copy of the Hampshire County rules for commercial permits,” saying that county “took the lead in this procedure, with Grant County looking to do the same.”
Explaining what now takes place in Hampshire County, Trabert said the county commission gave the county planner authority to require the state fire marshal’s office be contacted with plans for all commercial building permit requests.
Building permits are not issued in Hampshire county until the review process is completed from the state agency.
Commissioner Wayne Spiggle asked Trabert about the length of time the review process could take, looking at what could be a delay in the construction of a county building.
Trabert said, “We tell everyone it could take two weeks for the review, but it could happen in 48 hours.”
Clay also had a concern with the fee impact on the developer, and Trabert pointed out the fees were nominal, as $25 for stove hood inspection and fire alarm system costing $50 per 10,000 square feet.
He did mention there would be no charges issued to Mineral County if and when the change is implemented.
Clyde Burdock, president of the planning commission, stated the new regulations would have to be adopted through the county commission before the Mineral County Planning office can proceed with notification of commercial building permits to be reviewed at the state fire marshal’s level.