By DAVID GREEN
A tie-breaking vote by mayor Keith Pennington blocked a motion to make roofing inspections optional in Morenci.
A change in state law allows municipalities to decide if inspections for residential re-roofing projects should be required, and council member Brenda Spiess made a motion that would have ended the city's mandatory inspections.
"The building code is not changing," she said. "The only change is that we're not going to send someone out to look over your shoulder."
Her motion would have made an inspection optional if the sheeting underneath shingles were not disturbed.
Council member Robert Jennings asked how the City would know if the sheeting was disturbed unless it was inspected. It would be no different than the current situation, answered council Tracy Schell. There are dishonest people and dishonest contractors.
City administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder had an example of that from a roofing project near city hall. She said that building inspector Kevin Arquette saw a crew from Hamtramck, Mich., roofing a house without a permit and taking shortcuts that violated city code.
She asked if Arquette should ignore problems if the new proposal were accepted, but she received no answer.
Schell said she would want to pay for an inspection if she were getting a new roof, but a contractor might not think it was necessary if he were working on his own property. She emphasized that it should be a matter of personal responsibility.
Roofing work is expensive, Arquette said, and people cut corners to save money.
"I think it would be a real step backward to make it optional," he said, adding that inspections are there to protect the health, safety and welfare of citizens.
Residents who don’t choose to have an inspection would pay more in the long run, Jennings suggested.
"That’s their choice," Spiess said.
Audience member Colleen Leddy suggested that council should be concerned about the condition of housing in the community. With an inspection, she said, there's a much greater chance of having the work done correctly.
Audience member Kim Valentine, a contractor, was asked for his opinion and he favored the optional plan. He thinks people should pay for an inspection, but he doesn't want someone telling him what to do.
Arquette said he could see obvious code violations from the front door of City Hall. If inspections are optional, he asked if he should ignore the problem.
“I don’t think it’s in the scope of my work to ignore obvious code violations,” he said. “There’s some liability here somewhere.”
Schell said she wasn't familiar with the roofing process and asked what could be done incorrectly in putting on new shingles. Arquette quickly came up with nine potential problems.
Schell and Berger were joined by Greg Braun in supporting the optional plan. Jeff Bell, Rebecca Berger and Jennings were opposed, and Pennington's vote stopped the proposal.