County takes over Canton inspections

By DeeAnna Haney | Sep 17, 2012

CANTON — The county will now be in charge of building inspections in Canton after providing services on a contract basis for a year and a half.

Canton was left without a full-time chief building inspector when Phil Smathers retired in July 2010. Smathers agreed to work temporarily on an as-needed basis.

Two employees at the Canton Fire Department were already certified as Level I inspectors in different areas such as plumbing and mechanical.

"That was our major issue was getting someone certified in building inspections. We needed a fully certified inspector all across the board," said Al Matthews, Canton town manager.

To inspect large, commercial structures up to 60,000 square feet, the town needed a certified Level II inspector.

In the absence of an inspector, the Haywood County commissioners agreed to offer county services until the town hired a certified inspector or one of the employees obtained higher certification.

“We have been working with county and Waynesville inspectors through an inter-local cooperative agreement,” Matthews said.

The standard inspection fees charged to those needing service were collected by the county, which offset the county's cost.

“What we took in from inspection fees went back to compensate the inspectors,” Matthews said.

But having a county, rather than a town inspector caused some confusion for people who weren’t sure whether to obtain their permits from the town or the county.

The joint resolution between Canton and the county officially turns over building inspection services to county inspectors.

“This contract will streamline the inspections process,” Matthews said.

The county approved the agreement at a board meeting last week.

Those who wish to build a new structure in Canton or expand an existing structure will now need to go to the Town of Canton for a compliance certificate, Matthews said.

The county will then issue building permits and provide inspection services.

In the end, the agreement will save money for the town, Matthews said.

The $35,000 the board set aside at the beginning of the fiscal year in the event the town was able to hire a chief building inspector will now be moved to the general budget, Matthews said.

The county building inspectors also provide inspection services to the towns of Maggie Valley and Clyde while Waynesville funds its own inspection department.

Bruce Crawford, department director for the Hawyood County inspection office, told the commissioners the department could handle the Canton inspection duties with no extra staff or costs.