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OLEAN – Contractors will have to pay a bit more attention if a new public law makes its way through the Common Council on Nov. 12.

Previous protocol allowing a contractor to complete work on city-maintained property before getting a proper permit would no longer be tolerated.

In a proposed public law offered by Ward 5 Alderman James Finch (R), contractors who are found to be doing work on city rights of way without the proper permit will be made to pay double the permitting price and a $100 service charge.

“We have no recourse,” City Director of Public Works Tom Windus said. “Right now, [people] can go into the road and do what they want, as far as doing line work. If they are caught, we let them finish and then have them come and get the permit. We have no control.”

That lack of control can create serious problems, Windus continued.

“We have no idea what they have done to utilities underground,” he said. “Let’s say a homeowner is installing a new lateral connection from his house to the city line (water and sewer lines used to service the residence). Without a permit, they could be using the wrong size and connect into the main by just shoving the pipe into it. When we run the snake through to clean that main, imagine the problems that could cause.”

Some homeowners have run lines to make sure a home has water so they could sell it, Windus said.

According to Windus, the price for permits varies, but none is very high. Work in the street, for example, is a $50 permit.

The regulations mandating permits also work as checks to ensure the work is being done by properly trained and insured contractors, registered with the city.

The proposed law is expected to make the agenda for the Council’s Nov. 12 meeting. The delay is to allow City Attorney Wendy Peterson a chance to clarify the language of the law, she said.