LIVINGSTON, NJ - The Livingston Building Department, which is made up of trained professionals in the areas of construction, renovation and demolition who work to provide Livingston residents with guidance regarding local, state and federal building codes and standards, proposed to increase fees for the first time since 2010.
According to Construction Official and Zoning Officer Martin Chiarolanzio, who spoke at Monday’s Town Council meeting, the department has separated the fees into residential and commercial fees, with the commercial fee increasing slightly more than the residential.
Although the new fees are generally competitive with surrounding towns like Florham Park and West Orange, Chiarolanzio, who demonstrated these comparisons at the meeting, said the increase is necessary to keep the level of service up.
“We have a lot of big developments coming in, which do demand a lot of our time in the office and in the field,” said Chiarolanzio. “We felt we should raise our fees in the area where we’re getting our most demand, which is in our commercial areas.”
According to Chiarolanzio, the Business Department has had some additional expenses and is expecting to begin accepting credit cards in the near future, causing the necessary increase in fees. In breaking down the different use groups, including commercial developments and residential developments like single-family homes, hotels, etc., the department was able to address separate fees accordingly.
The analysis caused the commercial fee to be raised significantly more than the residential fee, though both will increase.
“We tried to break it down and collect a fee that’s appropriate for the job,” said Chiarolanzio. “There’s a lot of inspections that go on and we felt that raising those fees would necessary.”
Councilman Shawn Klein questioned the possibility of reducing the price of the first temporary certificate of occupancy (TCO) so as to not punish people who were struggling to get their real CO and had to take a less-permanent step. In other words, a first TCO fee would be less than a second CO. After significant discussion on the topic, Chiarolanzio agreed to make the change to the proposal.
“I think we need to do this to keep our level of service up,” said Chiarolanzio, who mentioned that more people were recently added to the staff. “Our office is so busy, it’s like a revolving door day in and day out. It keeps us busy and the days fly by, but the fees are justified for what we do.”
Chiarolanzio said the Building Department would like to see this proposal adopted as soon as possible and Mayor Michael Silverman agreed that “time is of the essence” on this project. Silverman, thanking Chiarolanzio for his hard work, noted that he has received several compliments regarding dramatic and radical changes in the Building Department’s work throughout town and cited one commercial business that was particularly impressed.