Council Votes To Exempt Museum From Sprinkler Law

BERLIN – The Berlin Mayor and Council unanimously waived restrictions requiring the Calvin B. Taylor Museum to use a commercial sprinkler system in favor of a residential one.

Currently, the museum is serviced by a three-quarter inch waterline, which is more than sufficient to supply its general water needs. However, installing a fire suppression system would require a commercial sized four-inch waterline, as town standards adopted two years ago mandate that commercial operations, which the museum technically is, must have commercial grade sprinklers. Upgrading the waterline to those standards would cost approximately $15,000, according to Berlin Water Resources Director Jane Kreiter.

“It would be a tremendous cost,” she told the Mayor and Council Monday.

However, the council reevaluated the need for a commercial strength system in the property. Even though it now serves the public, the museum was once a residence and is of a size and design that would not require the same amount of water as say, a hotel or factory.

Councilman Troy Purnell called the general labeling of all businesses as requiring commercial grade water lines a, “typical example of overkill in town standards.”

Mayor Gee Williams agreed, asking Kreiter to try and come up with a list of other issues with the town standards that could be discussed at the beginning of next year.

On the subject of the museum, Williams made sure that everyone understood what the council was doing.

“It’s a two-tier decision,” he said. “First, do we wish to provide accommodation [to the museum’s request]? Second, do we want to find if the less costly solution would provide adequate coverage?”

Kreitel explained that as of now, if the need for commercial standards were waived, the building could be served by its current line and would just need to replace its meter, something that would cost about $128 compared to the $15,000 for a full overall.

When it came time for the vote, Purnell made sure that the assembly understood what the council was doing. “Basically, we’re waiving down the standards,” he said.

While this waive would only change restrictions on the museum, Purnell said any other properties with similar problems should come before the council.