Homeowners face fines over porch rails

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The city is demanding one Richmond neighborhood to build guard rails on their front porches or face thousands of dollars in fines. City leaders say they're being proactive because of last November's deck collapse on Cary Street.

20 people, including 11 VCU students, were injured in the collapse during a weekend party. The collapse has city inspectors on the lookout for porch and deck violations. A dozen residents of Belmont Avenue were put on notice by the city that their front porches need more protection.

"I think 21 days is outrageous to replace something. Considering this is a historic neighborhood I wouldn't want to put anything up that wasn't in keeping with the style and the age. Of the house," said resident Patrica Fields.

But the city says these homeowners are actually living on the edge.

"They really need to because this is a safety issue and someone could get hurt badly if they fall off of those decks or porches," said Roy Eidem, Permits and Inspections Operations Manager.

Neighbors are most concerned about the cost of all of this. If they do nothing they face a $25 hundred fee. If they want to fight this they have to pay to appeal. And if they go ahead and build the railing. Well then they have to pay for a $63 building permit.

The residents say their homes have always been this way, so their porches should be grand-father in. The city says the code won't allow it.

"The code states that if there's a safety issue. Involved and this is a safety issue than it has to be upgraded to meet the codes that exist at this time," said Eidem.

The homeowners are considering appealing the violations. Meanwhile the city says if they apply for a building permit it is willing to work with them and give them more time to get the guard-rails in place.

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