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Council Considers CCO Inspections

Proposed process would ensure new homeowners have proper permits in place at time of sale.

Martin Chiarolanzio of the Livingston Building Department discussed a proposed process requiring Certificate of Continued Occupancy inspections, commonly referred to as CCOs, at Monday's Livingston Township Council meeting. 

If agreed to, the CCOs would take place in addition to the fire inspections, which are carried out by the Livingston Fire Department, for each of the roughly 300-400 home sales that occur within the township each year.

According to Chiarolanzio, the driving force behind the program is to close out all open permits, as well as to put an end to construction being performed without permits.

Currently, the department is working diligiently to close out all existing open permits. The task is not an easy one to accomplish, however, as permits become hard to track because of the sheer volume of jobs carried out over the years.

Recently, letters have been mailed out to homeowners with open permits between the years 2006 and 2008. Chiarolanzio explained the initial letters sent out do not come with a penalty. Instead, all the department asks is that the residents set up an inspection to formally close out the permit.

"The intent here is not to penalize anyone; we just want the permits closed," he said.

Not all of the receipients have responded, though, which has prompted the department to take further action by issuing summonses to those individuals.

Chiarolanzio noted the department has worked hard over the years to make it easier for residents to follow the rules, including significantly cutting down on the lead time it takes homeowners to obtain a building permit.

No additional personnel would be needed to carry out the CCO process, which in most cases is paid for by the seller, as the township already employs a plumbing inspector with the required experience. Among the focal points of the inspection would be the home's hot water heater and furnance because of potential carbon monoxide hazards, as well as the sump pump. Other factors that would be looked at include house numbers.

Concerns were raised over whether the program should include cosmetic issues, such as peeling paint. In response, Township Manager Michele Meade pointed out none of the requirements listed are new ones.

"These are things that already are in our property maintenance code, which people are already are supposed to do today," she said.

Meade also noted the township simply doesn't have enough manpower to make sure residents are following these guidelines.

Councilwoman Deborah Shapiro indicated the program was a step in the right direction from a safety aspect, but cautioned against enforcing cosmetic issues, such as peeling paint, noting many of the homes in the township are sold "as-is".

Chairolanzio assured the council he was not out to nitpick and interfere with sales. "I'm not looking to do too much on the inside, except for life safety issues," he said.

At the conclusion of the discussion, the members of the council agreed to further review the proposal and make additional suggestions.

The council's next meeting is on Monday, March 26, with a conference meeting beginning at 7:30 p.m. and a regular meeting at 8 p.m.

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