Winsted City Council Minutes
City of Winsted
City Council Workshop
April 24, 2007
Present: Mayor Steve Stotko
Council Member Tom Ollig
Council Member Tom Wiemiller
Council Member Bonnie Quast
Council Member Dave Mochinski
Staff Present: Brent Mareck, City Administrator
Sue Mueller, Utility Clerk
Mayor Stotko called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.
I. Contract Services
Mareck opened the meeting asking that Metro West explain the philosophy of how a building permit is approved.
1. Mareck also asked Metro West to explain how they determine whether a building permit is valid or invalid.
2. Another issue that Mareck wanted to review was how Rob Beckfeld interacts with the people who apply for a permit.
Loren Kohen, Building Official and Rob Beckfeld, Building Inspector from Metro West were present. Kohen explained that building inspectors responsibilities are:
1. To enforce the State Codes set by the State of Minnesota; they do not make the codes. He used the analogy that not everyone agrees with the tax assessors rules either, but the assessor is just carrying out what the laws are.
2. He also explained that the Building Inspector is responsible to ensure that the contractors that the owners hire follow the building codes in order to avoid litigation.
3. Kohen also stated that the Building Inspector's job is to ensure that the structures are built structurally safe.
Wiemiller responded by stating that the codes are there to protect everyone and that they apply to everyone, with no exceptions. Quast agreed and said she supports Beckfeld’s work and said she has seen some contractors trying to bend the rules and in her opinion it is better to ensure that the codes are followed than see problems later with issues that could have been avoided.
Ollig pointed out four different issues:
1. The city is not asking Beckfeld to relax the state codes.
2. Beckfeld does a very good job interpreting the codes.
3. As a building inspector he is a representative of the City of Winsted.
4. As a representative of the city his demeanor and attitude should reflect who represents the City of Winsted.
Mareck stated that efforts should be made to educate citizens on what a building inspector's job is. After some discussion, it was decided that to get the public educated some steps would be taken.
1. At a council meeting, Beckfeld could explain what his job consists of and explain why he comes to the decisions he does. It was also decided that possibly the local newspaper could do an article on the building permit process.
2. It was discussed whether in the next newsletter a section could be called the Code Corner, in which Beckfeld could address some issues that the residents in Winsted might be asking about.
3. Beckfeld and Kohen also said that Metro West has a booth that they use in other cities when they have a special city event in which they could set up and have a question and answer presentation. They would be willing to do this on a Saturday morning.
Discussion was held regarding how to deal with people who when first starting out don't know how much they are going to do and at what point is a permit required. Beckfeld stated that code requires a basic plan. Beckfeld said that building inspectors are not allowed to design projects, and if they did interpret something and it was wrong then it could become a legal issue.
All members of the City Council indicated that they support Beckfeld in his duties and asked him to continue efforts to build strong relationships with members of the community.
Quast motioned to adjourn. Wiemiller seconded. Motion carried 5-0.