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Hot temps inspire pool buys

COVINGTON — Summer is in full swing, and sweltering temperatures make cool swimming pools a tempting treat.

But Newton residents need to make sure they are following regulations when it comes to pool installation, according to officials charged with inspecting pools. Though it's late in the summer season, many residents wait to install pools until late summer or early fall to get discount prices. Sometimes there is confusion about what rules they need to follow.

"Over the summer, it comes up from time to time. It happens every summer," said Scott Sirotkin, director of the Newton County Department of Development Services.

Many property owners don't realize they need a permit to install a pool, said Crystal Dooley, administrative coordinator for the Department of Development Services. They also don't know about requirements that in-ground pools be fenced, she said.

Anyone wishing to install a pool should first go to Environmental Health for approval. Environmental Health will check to make sure digging won't affect sewer lines or cause other problems. Once that hurdle is cleared, an application must be completed with the Department of Development Services, which will check to make sure the site of the pool is on the applicant's property and meets other pertinent zoning matters before issuing a permit. Permits are $200. Inspection will be done during construction of the pool.

Above-ground pools with metal walls do not have to be fenced in, as the walls are considered to be barriers, Dooley said. However, ladders on above-ground pools should be removable.

In-ground pools must be fenced in with fence height a minimum of 54 inches. Fences are required to be self-closing and self-latching. Split-rail fencing does not qualify. In addition, if the fence touches the houses or if there are doors leading out to the enclosed pool area, those doors are required to have an alarm or chimes to alert occupants of the home that someone is going out to the pool area. That regulation is meant to protect children who may wander away unsupervised, Dooley said.

A permit will not be issued if the pool is not properly fenced.

"We require property owners to provide us with a bond to ensure if they don't get the fence up, we will make sure the fence goes up," Dooley said.

The county has issued 21 swimming pool permits since January. For more details on rules regarding installation, call the Department of Developmental Services at 678-625-1650 or visit the department on the second floor of the Newton County Administration Building located at 1113 Usher St.