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By Jana Hill
Mill Creek Beacon Editor 

Building codes in Mill Creek revised

Delays from COVID-19 in the way of earlier passage

 

Last updated 3/5/2021 at 8:25am

To approve or not to approve, that was the question.

The city of Mill Creek voted unanimously to update 2018 international building codes, in a move that was late in coming. Feb. 1 was the intended date for the codes to take effect. Approval came at the advice of city staff and legal counsel, and with the caveat that the city would hope to eventually offer flexibility when applying building codes.

IBC building codes are usually revised once every three years, said Tom Rogers, planning and development services manager for the city.

The revision process comes to the city from a state-level recommendation. Codes are written to address unique geographic circumstances, such weather or seismic activity and actual events that show a need for alteration to existing rules.

"That's the bottom line – to make sure things are safe," Rogers told the council.

Energy savings written into this particular revision will add to construction costs, said Mayor and Councilmember Brian Holtzclaw. That has created controversy in the building community, he said.

"This is something we are mandated to do but this is to some extent (it is) an unfunded mandate that gets passed along to those people purchasing new homes, or town homes or condominiums in our community," Holtzclaw said in a council meeting. "We're essentially estimating that it is going to cost us $15,000 to $20,000 more per house to comply with the new energy code."

Building codes are usually updated every three years, Rogers told the council. Delays to approval included COVID-19, which led to extensions.

City Manager Michael Ciaravino asked city legal counsel, during the meeting, whether the city was required to pass the building codes.

"I just wanted to challenge the assumption that we manditorially have to adopt this," Ciaravino said, asking the city's legal counsel for direction. "What is the consequence if, for example, council elected or opted not to adopt?"

City attorney Grant Dettinger said builders will review construction plans against current codes. So he recommended the city adopt codes, but seek an opportunity to offer flexibility to builders. The city could revisit and amend the ordinance later if options allow, Dettinger said.

"We need to monitor and see if there are some options that become available to local governments," he said.

All building codes in the packet were mandatory and past due, Rogers told the council. The ordinance will take effect five days after its legal announcement is printed in a newspaper.

The packet including the code revision is here: https://bit.ly/3kqlzIM.

 

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