Permitting process is too lax

Ward County officials expressed frustration this week with an ongoing problem: More and more building projects in the county are being done without proper building permits.

Mike Larson, county building inspector, reported that 35 of 105 buildings under construction were begun without proper permits.?Many times, inspectors find building code violations when they’re doing final inspections on a new building. Obviously by then, it’s too late.

The biggest frustration with the Ward County situation is this:?The county has no system in place to fine those who don’t comply. The state building code includes a $1,500 penalty for anyone ignoring the permitting process, but the county has no such penalty.

Clearly, the situation raises all sorts of questions.

How does Larson or anyone else working for the county expect to enforce its rules if there’s no penalty for non-compliance?

If the county knows its rules have no real bite behind them, why hasn’t a system of fines been created and put in place yet?

The best Larson can do now is essentially remind people that the county has a permitting process, but how can he force someone to follow the rules? He can’t, and that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. If the county isn’t going to enforce its own rules to ensure everything is being done legally and up to code, why have the rules at all?