WESTPORT — The zoning commissioner has been in contact with banks and insurance companies regarding the cleanup of fire-damaged properties.
Ralph Souza, also the building inspector, said he could also use additional staff to help him deal with some of these issues, along with the demands of his busy office.
Souza met with the selectmen to update them on properties damaged by fires, with some needing immediate demolition.
One fire he cited was last year on 9 Mt. Pleasant St., which claimed the life of a young child. The other was on property at 201 to 203 Davis Road, and that home caught on fire last June.
“We are getting movement on them,” Souza said of the progress, pushing for demolition permits from some of these owners.
“I will keep emailing them back and phone-tagging them,” Souza said.
Souza said he is also looking at building issues following the most recent fire in town; Macray’s Clam Shack on Route 6 burned down last month.
All these issues have added to Souza’s work load, and he told selectmen that his office needs more help.
Souza said this year his office has reviewed 868 building permit applications and might surpass last year’s total, which reached just over 1,000. He said 110 of the 868 are for new houses.
There has been a gradual uptick in house growth since 2007, as well as permits that go along with them, he said.
Board members told Souza that they are looking to begin putting together fiscal 2019 budgets, and asked Souza to submit his requests.
Selectmen Chairman Steven Ouellette said that the board is looking toward adding personnel to his department.
“It’s been 10 years and I have been flying solo,” Souza said.
Selectman Brian Valcourt said more money for the building department might not be a bad idea.
Valcourt said the department last year generated $240,000 in revenue through permit fees, making it a self-sustaining town department.
Also at Monday’s selectmen meeting, another Souza took center stage — police Officer Brian Souza.
Selectmen honored Brian Souza, who just retired from the force after 30 years of service.
Sen. Michael Rodrigues and Rep. Paul Schmid were on hand to honor him. Rodrigues gave Souza an official citation from the state Senate.