Old Pipes Could Exempt Some From Sprinkler Mandate

SALISBURY – Certain areas of the city may be exempt from a recently passed sprinkler system requirement in newly constructed homes due to existing infrastructure.

According to City Administrator John Pick, on Aug. 9, 2010, the city approved a requirement that all one-and two-family residential dwellings built after that date be required to install sprinkler systems for fire protection. However, in certain developments throughout the city infrastructure has already been installed under old city standards but housing has yet to be constructed.

It has been concluded by the Public Works Department and the County Fire Inspectors Office that it is not possible for the existing standard residential water supply lines to deliver sufficient water to serve the required sprinkler systems in family dwellings.

In order for developers to meet the city’s sprinkler requirement, they would have to remove the existing water supply lines and replace them with larger lines. This would include removing other infrastructure, such as streets, sidewalks, curbs, and gutters, at a great cost to the developers.

Director of Building, Permitting, and Inspections Bill Holland he ran some tests at developments, for example Sassafras Meadows water meters read the flow was as low as 17 gallons per minute. Other developments averaged around 20 to 22 gallons a minute. He added that the required sprinkler systems demand 40 gallons per minute in water flow.

“This is a large concern for developers and people buying the homes,” Holland said.

In addition to the infrastructure concern, the city has also purchased 200 water meters at a cost of $50,000 prior to the sprinkler system requirement. The water meters are not of sufficient size to meet the sprinkler systems and cannot be used and cannot be returned.

Holland suggested for the City Council to deliberate whether the portions of town where existing infrastructure can be exempt from the sprinkler requirement passed in 2010, in order to avoid additional costs on developers and the city.

In conclusion, the city council came to a consensus to move the resolution to a future meeting.

“I think this is part of a larger discussion because it doesn’t do us any good to have a safety measure like this and not be able to deliver the goods, in fact it’s very harmful to the city,” Council President Terry Cohen said.

In other news, the council discussed towing fees, while the ordinance regarding new towing regulations and fees is pending.

The council had previously provided consensus to extend the towing licenses that expired Dec. 31, 2010 until May 31, 2011. This city has not collected any towing fees or officially renewed licenses.

“At the time, we didn’t realize it was going to take so long to get a new towing ordinance in place,” Pick said.

Assistant Director of Internal Services Gerri Moore explained that there has been no billing to tow companies taken place while the new ordinance is pending. Under the old or current code, there is a $25 application fee and a $75 license fee.

The police department sends out applications to towing companies. Once the applications are returned with the $25 fee, the police department conducts background investigations to deem companies appropriate as a police tow company. At that point, the company would pay the $75 fee to receive a police tow license.

Councilwoman Laura Mitchell suggested for the city to continue under the old towing ordinance until the new ordinance takes place.

“We are under the old rules until it changes, so nothing should change,” she said.
The council came to a consensus to follow the old towing license fee procedure in the meantime.
“We are going to bill as if nothing ever changed at this point,” Moore said.