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Our Opinion: Evolving code

Our Opinion: Evolving code

July 16th, 2017 by News Tribune in Opinion

Jefferson City could be close to finalizing tweaks to the city's building codes, which has been under review by several dozen contractors, designers, city planners and other business leaders over recent months.

The goal is to create robust building codes that are easy to use, but also balance business needs. While studying the codes, the citizens' committee also sought public input.

The city updates its building codes only once every six years, so the committee's work is an important step in the evolution of our building code.

We believe the committee's work has yielded positive changes. Among other things, the codes would be altered to:

  • Ease the requirement commercial buildings be built with storm shelters. Currently, they must be built to withstand EF-5 tornadoes with winds of 250 mph. Under the recommendations, that would be changed to tornado shelters that can withstand EF-4 tornadoes with winds of 200 mph. The rationale is those EF-5 tornadoes, the strongest category, rarely occur. The ones that hit Joplin in 2011 and Moore, Oklahoma, in 2013, both were EF-5 storms.
  • Fully regulate swimming pool installation. Current code barely mentions pools, but this would bring the city's code in line with the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code.
  • Require developers to install fire-prevention sprinklers in apartment complexes with three or more units. Current city code allows developers to build apartment complexes with 10 or fewer units without sprinklers. We agree with the Jefferson City Fire Department and the committee that this is a common-sense safety measure.

Building codes affect us all, not just developers. They often aim to balance safety and affordability. If that balance is off, you could be buying/renting something that is unsafe, or you could be paying extra for unneeded safety measures.

So far, we like what we've seen in the proposed code changes. But if you don't, now is your time to act. Let your council representatives know how you feel. They'll get the new recommendations Aug. 7, and could vote on them soon after.