Reminder: All Pools Require Permits
They are inexpensive, effective and popping up every where. The so-called temporary swimming pools that many families are setting up for the summer seem like a low-cost way to keep cool when the temperature heats up, but they are actually a safety hazard and in violation of the state Uniform Construction Code. As such, the borough Building Inspector is issuing violation notices to homeowners who have pools without permits.
"Pools have to be protected under the code. It's all about safety," explains Janet Giardino of the Midland Park Building Department. "We have an obligation to protect the town from hazards. All it takes is for one child to drown and it is too late."
With the exception of children's wading pools that are emptied at the end of the day, all pools must be code-compliant, regardless of whether they are up for a few days, weeks or years. To be compliant, all pools require a construction permit, which includes up to four sections—building, plumbing, fire and electrical — and a property survey. (Note: The borough does not automatically have property surveys on file. The survey should be included in your property closing package when you purchased the home.) While each situation is different, the average cost for an above ground pool permit is around $150 to $175.
In addition to a permit, pool-compliant fencing is required, and typical privacy fencing will not cut it. To be compliant, it must be at least 48-inches tall with automatic-locking gates among other safety features. It also must be entirely yours. If you share a side with your neighbor and they own that section, it isn't pool-compliant because your neighbor can remove it at any time.
The one exception to pools requiring fencing is an above ground pool that stands more than four feet tall and has a pool-compliant ladder. To ensure the pool and the ladder meet these requirements, the pool itself should be 52 inches and on leveled ground so it is at least 48 inches tall at all points. Pool-complaint ladders are big, bulky and substantial — and not the ones that typically come with the pool. They also lock up 48-inches above the ground. (Be sure to purchase from a reputable pool supply company and confirm it is compliant.)
Another big safety violation is using an extension cord to power the filter or any other part of the pool. Because pools deal with water, any electrical running to the unit must be grounded.
In addition to safety concerns, prospective pool buyers should also be aware of the borough's regulations regarding property coverage and improvements. Regardless of property size, the maximum coverage allowed is 40%. The remaining 60% must remain green space. Coverage, not to be confused with impervious surfaces, includes the house, garage, sheds, driveways (even gravel ones), patios and any other covered area.
To obtain a pool permit, download the Construction Permit Request Form, fill it out and bring it to the Building Department on the second floor of Borough Hall. The office is open from 8:30am to 12:30pm, Monday through Friday. Turn around time for construction permits are typically 1 to 2 weeks. For more information, call the Building Department office at 201-445-5424 during its regular business hours.