Sunrise Engineering to help with inspections and code enforcement
EPHRAIM—The Ephraim City Council has approved a contract under which Sunrise Engineering of Fillmore will provide plan review and building inspection services for new construction as well as consult on special problems such a code enforcement and condemnation of buildings.
The council approved the contract Sept. 7 at a meeting where several citizens talked about the need to tackle blight citywide.
Up to now, Sanpete County has reviewed proposed architectural plans for new structures or major remodels, issued building permits, conducted final inspections and issued occupancy permits. The county has provided the services for all jurisdictions in the county, including Ephraim.
However, because of the volume of multi-family and commercial construction in Ephraim, including special situations such as homes being converted to apartments, the city has more requirements on its checklists than other cities or the county itself, Bryan Kimball, city planner and engineer, said. The result was that some Ephraim City requirements weren’t being monitored, he said.
During the last budget cycle, the city decided to bring the plan review, building permit and inspection functions in-house, including collecting building permit fees that formerly went to the county
At the Sept. 7 meeting, City Manager Brant Hansen told the city council he had looked into adding a licensed building inspector to the city staff. “But it was beyond our price range, frankly.” And, he said, there were times when there wasn’t enough activity to keep a full-time inspector busy.
The contract with Sunrise is on demand, he said. “We’ve written this agreement so we can cancel services or use services at any time. We really like that. Particularly in our situation, we’re a growing city. We have to be adaptable.”
Sunrise will be compensated by receiving a percentage of building permit fees, plus paid an amount per diem when it has staff on site in Ephraim.
Mark Huntsman, senior vice president of Sunrise Engineering, told the city council the firm had provided building inspection services to local governments for 20 years. “We started out in rural communities, and now we’re in urban areas,” he said.
The team that would serve Ephraim has 15 people, including licensed inspectors and people with experience as city building officials.
“Some people say, ‘Oh, you’re going to run it like a big city,’ and we run big cities,” he said. “…But we also have the town of Meadow (on I-15). We handle all their code enforcement and their building permits, and it all works.
“We do have that big-city experience, which helps us deal with the more difficult issues, but that’s not what we wear on our sleeves.”
Huntsman said he and his staff had met with city staff members to discuss how the contract would work.
He said Sunrise would designate one key inspector for Ephraim. Another two or three designated Sunrise staff members would come to Ephraim as needed to help out the main inspector or provide supplementary expertise.
Huntsman said Sunrise was talking to an employee who has family ties in Sanpete County and might be willing to move to the local area, which would make the key inspector very accessible.
“When you have special needs, like we talked about with the trailer park and other issues, we have veterans, who are mostly in Salt Lake, who know how to deal with these issues, condemn the buildings, and things like that,’ he said.
“We dispatch all our inspectors out of our corporate office in Fillmore,” Huntsman added. “…Our turnaround on inspection is typically 24 hours.”
Kimball told the city council the Sunrise contract would create a “more seamless process” because contractors and residents, rather than getting zoning permits from the city but going to the county for building permits, could get all permits at city offices.