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A former member of the Madison County Joint Planning Commission offered food for thought during the public comment portion of Thursday’s meeting.

Larry Sinclair of Meadow Grove, who served eight years on the commission about 20 years ago, said he was upset with the county for charging him for a building permit for a house a second time when the house was not completed in a year.

“I kind of know how this advice works,” Sinclair told the commissioners.

Sinclair said he and his wife decided to build a house on 18 acres. The permit was no problem, and the house encountered all the setbacks when applying for the building permit. They paid for the permit, based on the square footage.

“A year later, I received a notice that the building permit was about to expire. You have to come in and renew and that’s what I did,” Sinclair said.

Nothing had changed, but the county wanted to charge him an extra $397 for the permit, he said.

Zoning administrator Heather McWhorter said the building permit is valid for one year. It says on the permit next to where people sign, the permit is valid for one year, she said.

McWhorter said the county has also granted Sinclair another 90-day extension, which he can do if it looks like construction is nearing completion or there are difficulties.

Sinclair said he could see if he added square footage or something, then he could pay the difference. In this case, no changes were made, he said.

“I’m not going to pay twice for no good reason,” Sinclair said.

The day after he got planning permission, he “brought new ground,” Sinclair said.

“When you start digging, it’s gone and running,” he said. “It’s as simple as turning over a shovel of dirt. And that’s pretty much what I did. »

Sinclair said he got the house siding and orientation and utilities in late October or November. He was also looking for a contractor, but it was difficult to find someone because it was a complicated construction.

The whole time he was doing this, Sinclair said he was working on the house. Sinclair said a zoning person came to measure the setbacks in the winter, which was fine, but the person probably said not much was going on.

“You know, in the middle of winter, that’s practically not the case. When the thaw clears the ground and this and that, the serious work pretty much begins,” he said.

For that year of work, Sinclair said he had $41,000 in receipts proving he worked on the project.

“And for this year, I got probably three times as much in building revenue,” he said.

Sinclair said that when he was on the Joint Planning Commission, permit fees were not expected to generate revenue. They were supposed to help defray the cost of the county’s work, he said.

Sinclair said his other complaint was that he didn’t get due process because he wanted to be on the agenda last year and he wasn’t. As a result, he contacted Madison County District Attorney Joe Smith.

Sinclair said the county shouldn’t follow Norfolk regulations on everything. Sometimes in the countryside a farmer can build something and not be able to get there that quickly, he said.

And for the past two years, it’s been difficult to get contractors and building materials, Sinclair said.

“All of this is pushing construction projects back,” Sinclair said. “It’s not just the weather. I’m not trying to apologize here. I’m just saying that we’ve had unique events over the past two years that have shaken up a lot of businesses.

Smith, the county attorney, attended the meeting. Smith said he was there to make sure Sinclair could raise his concerns.

Smith said he wasn’t implying the county’s regulations were bad and the Joint Planning Commission couldn’t do much on Thursday but listen to his concerns.

Merlin Oswald, who chaired the meeting, thanked Sinclair for his comments. Oswald said anything can be explored.

Joy Griffith, another commissioner, said she remembers McWhorter regularly telling those who attend meetings that they will have a year when the permit is issued.

Griffith said Sinclair had done a good job of explaining herself, but she would assume the Joint Planning Commission would have to think about what was presented before taking action — if that is the case.

McWhorter said Sinclair was not the first to have this happen. Others were forced to renew their permits and pay for them, she said.

Oswald said McWhorter was only doing his job and working on behalf of the joint planning commission.

“She has to apply the rules as they are written,” Oswald said. “Maybe they were badly written. I think it’s something we have to recognize that she’s just doing the job she was hired to do.