Municipalities conflicted about building, property codes
Concerns have risen across U.S. cities and counties on how to enforce building codes, with some municipalities suggesting that changes might be necessary for enforcement.
The Delphi, Ind., city council held a special session to determine if enforcing the city’s building codes was necessary, the Carroll County Comet reports. The city’s building code was created in 1992, but it hasn’t been enforced since that time. The meeting was called because a local business owner thought that the code should be updated. Many at the 2,800-person city’s meeting expressed concerns that more regulations would impede business growth.
The council ultimately decided to form a study group to create suggested revisions to the building code.
In Ellis County, Kan., the same issue was discussed, according to The Hays Daily News. Ellis County’s issue specifically concerned the question of enforcing those codes in the three-mile extraterritorial zoning radius around Hays, Kan.
Ellis County has the authority to decide on the size of Hays’ municipal zoning buffer because it has established county-wide zoning. City officials requested that the county align its codes similarly to the city’s for easier enforcement.
“It’s pretty clear people move out in the country so they don’t have a lot of people telling them what to do. If the zone shrinks … I think it’s fair to follow most of the city rules, but not necessarily have it go through the whole county,” Ellis County Commissioner Barbara Wasinger said at the meeting.
Like Delphi, Ellis County commissioners said they would have to study Hays’ codes before committing to such a change.
Some municipalities have successfully mitigated building code issues by adapting their codes. Dubuque, Iowa, adopted a new set of building code standards on July 1 that regulates minimum maintenance standards, according to the Dubuque Telegraph Herald. The new codes are based on the International Property Maintenance Code, and Dubuque’s local version of the code requires that repairs and maintenance be done in a “workmanlike manner.”
“Repairs will have to be done in a manner consistent with the work of a skilled craftsman,” Dubuque Housing Inspection Supervisor Ben Pothoff told the paper. “Someone who knows what they’re doing and not … putting a plywood board over a hole in a wall.”
A national body of building, code enforcement and design professionals update the International Property Maintenance Code every three years, and the code allows for local modifications to fit each city, the Telegraph Herald reports. Over 30 cities in Iowa have adopted all or large amounts of that code for their building codes.