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Building code session raises questions for Paonia

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Should a revision of Paonia's building codes be a priority for the Paonia board of trustees?

That was one of the many questions raised by builders, contractors and homeowners during an April 16 session to discuss the possible impacts changes would have on the community.

The town has until June 28 to decide whether to contract with Colorado Code Company on the update. San Miguel County, the towns of Ridgway and Cedaredge, the City of Montrose and Orchard City are also considering contracting code revisions with CCC. The cost of $16,875 (with other costs to individual communities depending on their needs) would be split evenly among the participants. The more participants, the lower the cost to each community.

The meeting was hosted by the town General Affairs and Public Safety committee. Trustee and committee member Dave Knutson attended the meeting and planned to update town trustees on the results at Tuesday night's regular board meeting.

There are two main reasons for considering the updates, said CCC contractor Dan Reardon. Under recently-adopted changes to the federal Stafford Act's, in the event of a disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency can withhold funding if the local government has not adopted the most recent building codes.

In addition, said Reardon, Colorado lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would require local jurisdictions to, upon updating any building code, adopt one of the three most recent versions of the International Energy Conservation Code.

While governments don't have to comply, said Reardon, "I think it's a great idea, but it has to be right for you and your community."

Comments and questions reflected, in part, possible impacts on new and existing housing stock, cost increases, impacts on low-income households, what types of changes the other communities are considering, and whether a public education campaign could replace updating codes.

Since the board of trustees has numerous other projects on its plate, and since none of the trustees is well versed in building code, establishing a task force to advice the town on building code issues was also considered.

But one question may supersede all others: In light of the ongoing water issues the town is dealing with, should updating town code be a priority?

"The water emergency was a big wake-up call," said Knutson. The town is waiting for an after-action report by the state Incident Management Team that responded to the emergency before taking further action.

A follow-up meeting to discuss recommendations or directions given by the board at last night's public meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday, May 2, in the town hall community room. The public is welcome. Two or more town trustees may be in attendance.

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