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Huntington plans hearings on building codes

Huntington Town Hall in an undated photo.

Huntington Town Hall in an undated photo. Credit: Alexi Knock

Huntington Town will hold public hearings on two proposals that would streamline the building permit process and allow homeowners to install heat, a water supply, insulation and Sheetrock in detached garages.

Town board member Gene Cook, who submitted the proposals, said he wants to help alleviate the anxieties some residents have when dealing with the town building department.

One proposal that makes clearer language in the town building code is intended to address what Cook said are redundancies in the code that can be confusing for residents. He also said when residents find that they have a structure that is out of code -- such as a heated loft for storage in a detached garage -- the town forces them into costly, time-consuming and "unreasonable" changes.

"There are a lot of technical issues when people apply for a permit or have an issue of a nonconforming dwelling," Cook said. "We're just trying to fix it and streamline things, making it easier on the building department and helping residents ease the fear they have when they have to deal with Town Hall."

The hearings will be April 9 during the regular town board meeting.

Town board members Mark Cuthbertson and Susan Berland said they had reservations about the proposed changes but voted for the public hearings, which were approved unanimously, 5-0.

Cuthbertson said he was concerned that the proposal on detached garages would lead to them being used as "habitable" space.

Cook said his legislation would include fines for someone found to be using such a space as an illegal apartment.

Under his proposal, homeowners would be prohibited from having a septic system and a full second floor in a detached garage. Currently, only residents with an attached garage are permitted to have heat, insulation and Sheetrock.

"You need other things to make a space a home or dwelling such as a septic system, which is not allowed," Cook said. "People should be able to use their space as they wish within legal limits, and we need to have a clearer understanding of what that is."

The meeting will be at Town Hall, 100 Main St.

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