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Revisions on way for fire safety code
Tent permits out, cost recovery in
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Forsyth County News

A third public hearing will be held next month to determine how best to revise Forsyth County’s fire safety and prevention ordinance.

The changes under consideration would bring the county into compliance, as its last revision to the code was in 2005.

During the county commission meeting Thursday night, County Attorney Ken Jarrard reviewed revisions made to the proposal since the first hearing last month. Those include changing a $100 temporary tents permit to an annual permit at the same rate.

But that measure still doesn’t sit well with William Flynn, owner of Tents Tents Tents, who spoke during a public hearing on the matter.

Flynn said he was opposed to the fees as well as another portion of the ordinance that would require permits and fees for erecting tents, membrane structures and canopies.

“[I’m] opposed to the tent company being held responsible for the end customer choosing not to obey by the rules and by the law,” he said. “It shouldn’t come down on me.

“Can there be language added that the end user of the tent will be the one held responsible for not following the law as opposed to us?”

Commission Chairman Pete Amos said he also would like to see that portion removed, asking to “go back to the honor system and have no fees,” essentially status quo.

Commissioner Cindy Mills agreed, saying she didn’t want the revisions to hurt businesses or “make people’s lives more difficult, especially when there’s not a real need for it.

Barry Head, division chief in the Forsyth County Fire Department, disagreed.

“There is a need,” he said. “Keep in mind that the code is a reactive code, it’s in place … because of something that has happened in the past. We don’t want to encumber businesses either.”

Amos asked Jarrard to “try the voluntary, honor system for a while and see if it works.”

Another proposed addition would allow the department to recover costs incurred from an incident caused by someone acting negligently or in violation of the ordinance.

There was some initial concern over the cost recovery portion, with Head asking instead of it just referring to commercial negligence, that any criminal activity also be covered.

“I’m not really sure that we would want to limit it just to that arena,” Head said. “The event of meth labs is a good example.”

Jarrard said he would work as directed by commissioners to remove the tent permit portion and add criminal activity to the cost recovery section.

“This just simply codifies we can pursue it,” Jarrard said of criminal activity. “This may also give us the ability in Magistrate Court proceedings to ask for restitution. And again, we’ll just have to play that on a case by case basis.”