Law Prevents Clayton Business Owners From Improving Downtown Buildings

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It's just a few weeks before Phil Randazzo opens a shop in downtown Clayton for his vineyard, Coyote Moon.

He had hoped to improve his building's façade before the opening.

"Then we learned there was a huge problem because of something to do with the proximity act having to do with these high voltage wires out front of the building," he said.

He's talking about the High Voltage Proximity Act. It's a state law that prohibits unqualified workers from being within 10 feet of certain high-voltage power lines.

The law was enacted in 1992 and is enforced by National Grid. It's unclear why it's only recently become an issue.

"What do you do?" Randazzo asks. "Let the buildings fall down? It's ridiculous!"

Under the law, building owners need to hire qualified contractors to do the work they need.

The problem is, there doesn't seem to be any qualified contractors in the area and Mayor Norma Zimmer says there are no guidelines on how to become qualified.

She says she's been working with National Grid to figure out a short-term solution, because a long-term solution, like burying the wires, would be very expensive.

What the mayor and business owners need, they say, is a quick fix.

"Somebody has got to be able to help us with this problem, because this is craziness," Randazzo said.

Randazzo says business owners have more questions right now than they have answers.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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