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The formation of a building codes review committee in the city of Richmond was discussed and finally agreed to in last Wednesday’s Ordinance Committee meeting.
Ordinance Committee Chairman Roger Kepple said the idea is a recommendation of the Missouri Municipal League, an agency designed to improve state municipal government.
“It’s good to have a building codes board, so I could go to the board and plead my case, and possibly they could see it my way,” said Councilman Bob Bond. Currently, all city codes and inspections go through Community Development Director Lisa Hastings.
The Ordinance Committee is soliciting interested tradespeople and building engineers to volunteer for the board. The committee will make recommendations to Mayor Lance Green and afterwards, the full council will vote on the appointments, according to Kepple.
Councilwoman Terrie Stanley said she has fielded numerous complaints about 2000 International Building Codes the city has adopted. She contended that Richmond did not need the full adoption of the International Building Codes and could select the ones that would be pertinent to the community. She also questioned whether plumbers and electricians were required by the state to be licensed master tradesmen to do work in Richmond.
“I spoke to the MML today (July 1) regarding this,” Stanley said. “They said you don’t have to adopt the International Code and we can make our own code book – and that is perfectly all right. Mr. Sheets (from the MML) said we might not want to adopt codes because the city can be held liable and sued. The International Codes don’t fit here. We don’t live in New York; we live in Richmond,” she added. “The average income is $20,000 and they can’t afford these codes. Builders, plumbers and electricians can’t afford to work here.”
Hastings, who attended the meeting, disagreed that codes are halting construction. She pointed to the 70 permits for additions and renovations as an example. As for master licenses, Hastings said master licenses are a state statute adopted in 1996. If tradesmen had a license prior to 1996, they were grandfathered in.
“These are licensing requirements. The cities not doing license requirements are dealing with people’s lives,” she said.
For Clifford Martin, the master license is blocking him from additional work in Richmond.
“I worked for Alvin’s (Heating and Cooling) for 30 years. Everything that was inspected was my work, but I can’t get a license.” Martin now works for Curt’s Lafayette. The owner, Curt Wilber, said the original owner of his business did not renew the license, so they do not have a master license for electrical and plumbing. Both men said have been in the trades of electrical, plumbing and HVAC for decades.
Hastings offered to sponsor Martin for the test; however Wilber said a person normally needs to take the classes to take the test, which can be time consuming and expensive.
Travis Ramsey, who attended the meeting to get information about constructing a new building for his wife’s business said, “It’s got to save me and be affordable. I’m looking for tradesmen for this project and they say, ‘Hey bud, you’re in Richmond, I’m out.’ I’ve been here for three years and love it, but I’m telling you, there’s a plague over this town.”
Hastings said Richmond building codes are the same as in Lawson. She also said if the city abandoned the codes, insurance rates would increase.
“If you don’t adopt the new codes, they can raise the rate. Our rating got changed because of that. Every resident can get their insurance raised.” Hastings also said the ISO fire rating is based on the fire department, water flows and inspections.
On Monday, Richard Sheets, deputy director of MML, spoke to The Daily News regarding the adoption of the International Building Codes and master licenses. Sheets said there is no state requirement or mandate for building codes, nor is there state laws requiring a master classification of tradesmen to work in a third-class city, such as Richmond.
Sheets also said the master category for tradesmen is not a state designation, but a union designation. A state statute, Missouri Revised Statute 77.505, does allow third-class cities to license electricians; however it doesn’t have state authority and isn’t required, he said. There are no requirements for plumbers under state statutes.
As for the International Building Code, Sheets advises cities to adopt parts of the International Building Code they have the capability to enforce.
“Here’s the concern … It’s almost impossible to adopt all International Building Codes. There’s a lot of engineering involved; they’re very technical. Some cities adopt them, but can’t inspect and enforce them,” Sheets said. “If you buy a home in Richmond and they don’t enforce all those provisions, and the roof collapses and is out of code, someone’s in a world of trouble.”
“There’s a real liability issue if they’re not inspecting for the codes. That’s a tough job for small cities,” he said. “If they can’t enforce and inspect, I wouldn’t adopt it.”
Inspections and codes, along with a city’s fire protection, comprise a city’s ISO rating, he said.
In other business:
• The committee is considering an ordinance that only allows soft drinks, candy and snacks to be sold from city concession stands in town parks. Parks Board President Joyce Bowles says the move is for the safety of children.
“Kids were running down the street and down the swimming pool parking lot after the ice cream truck,” she said. “I called the non-emergency police number and asked them about my options. They said there is no ordinance and nothing they could do. Somebody is going to get hurt.”
Musical CDs from groups that Bob Moses books for Concerts in Park could also be sold at city concession stands as well, the committee said.
• Travis Ramsey came to the meeting to ask if there were DNR permits required to tap into an existing sewer line at Calvert’s Car Wash on Business Highway 10. Ramsey said he’s considering purchasing the car wash and constructing a new building for his wife’s business. He also requested a code book and road frontage requirements from Hastings.
City Administrator Rick Childers told Ramsey he would be “good to go” if he ties the new building into the old sewer line and gets a DNR tap permit. Ramsey was told he would need regular building and sewer permits for the process.