Fire alarm or sprinkler systems will be required in building additions under a revised ordinance approved by City Council.

Such fire-prevention systems will be required not only in building additions, but also in existing structures, under the revision approved by the Taneytown Council Monday night on a 3-2 vote.

Council members Jacquelyn J. Polk and Henry C. Heine Jr. dissented.

Prior to that vote, Polk proposed that the council reject the revision.

Although her motion was supported by Heine, it failed on a 2-3 vote.

"This whole thing is really getting to be a mess," Heine said.

Currently, the ordinance requires that sprinkler systems be installed in all new commercial construction and town homes and duplexes.

Single-family homes are exempt from the ordinance.

The council sought the revision to clarify whether building additions should be included in the ordinance.

The revision will apply to duplexes and town homes, but not to single-family homes.

Polk said she didn't like the idea of requiring the owner of a duplex who wanted toadd a family room to install a sprinkler or fire alarm system to thewhole structure.

"I don't want that at all," the councilwoman said.

Council members said the intent of the ordinance is to save lives and protect property.

In a related matter, the council declinedto waive the ordinance for Robert and Helen Schulze, owners of the Pizza Hut restaurant that opened without a sprinkler system last fall.

Schulze called the failure an oversight and asked city officials to waive the ordinance or to allow him to install a fire alarm systeminstead.

Schulze, who also owns other Pizza Hut restaurants in Maryland, sought the waiver because he said the cost of installing a sprinkler system would be prohibitive.

He estimated the cost at about $30,000 and added the work would mean closing the restaurant for ashort time.

Closing the restaurant would further hurt business, which Schulze said has not been as good as he expected.

He said therestaurant should be profitable in the long run.

"We weren't trying to get away with something," Schulze said about the oversight. "I was not aware of the ordinance in Taneytown."

Thomas F. Stansfield, the Taneytown attorney, said ignorance is no excuse for not abidingby the law.

The county issued Schulze a use-occupancy permits with city approval after plumbing, electrical and other expections were completed.

The city's sprinkler ordinance has been on the books since 1987.

The council declined to grant Schulze a waiver, althoughmembers did agree to extend the deadline for him to comply with the ordinance.

He will be given an additional six months -- until Nov.1 -- to install a sprinkler system.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad