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Paonia considers re-write of its building code

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Paonia trustees are considering contracting with Colorado Code Consulting to re-write the town's building code. If approved, Paonia would be one of up to six municipalities sharing the cost for the re-write.

Paonia currently contracts with CCC for its building department services. Because multiple municipalities want to update their code, CCC proposed a cost sharing plan. Following a presentation by CCC consultant Dan Reardon, trustees authorized town attorney Bo Nerlin to draft an agreement with CCC to be brought back for further discussion at a later meeting.

Before making a decision, Reardon urged the town to hold public meetings, and invite the building community into the conversation. CCC gave the board until June 28 to make a decision.

San Miguel County, the towns of Ridgway and Cedaredge, the City of Montrose and Orchard City are also considering contracting with CCC to revise building codes. Those choosing to participate would split the $16,875 cost equally, with additional costs to each municipality if they choose to have CCC representatives to meet with staff or give presentations.

While international and other building codes are updated every three years, Paonia, along with other neighboring communities, follows the 2003 International Building Code (IBC). With growth already occurring and plans for extending town boundaries through annexation in the works, trustees have already discussed a need to update the existing building code.

There are many reasons to update building codes, said Reardon. For example, under current federal law, in the event of a disaster, FEMA will first check to see if a governing body has adopted current code before issuing relief funding. "As the rules change, everyone needs to understand them," he said.

The IBC contains numerous chapters, Paonia code currently includes chapters on building, residential, and energy efficiency codes, said Reardon. Little has changed in some areas of building code, but the biggest impact new codes have on building, said Reardon, is in energy efficiency.

Reardon also asked the town to consider adding a chapter on mechanical systems to its code. It covers, in part, boilers and commercial kitchen hoods. Two commercial kitchen hoods have been installed in town in the last year, said Reardon.

Architect and town planning commission member Lucy Hunter noted that alternate building methods as tiny homes, light straw-clay and straw-bale construction straw bale are written into the newer codes.

"They're recognizing changes in techniques of building and trends in housing," said Reardon. They really are coming up to date and they're really more user-friendly in many regards." In some cases, he said, newer codes are even becoming less restrictive than the older ones. The town would also have some discretion in writing the codes. "You don't want to adopt things that you don't want to enforce," said Reardon.

One more reason to update town code, said Reardon, who serves on the board of the International Code Council Colorado Chapter, is that code education is now geared toward recent codes. "I can't even take a class on 2015 codes, and the 2021 codes are being updated right now."

If the town decides to contract with CCC, funds couild come from General Fund -- Building fund, said town administrator Ken Knight. However, he added, there are other areas in the general fund budget where the money could come from.

"There's not a big hurry on this," said trustee Dave Knutson. "I think it would be a good idea to have a listening session with the contractors and homebuilders and people that are remodeling so that they can have some input into this process" prior to making a decision.

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North Fork
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