Building code causes controversy for council

By Sarah Pridgeon

When the Sundance City Council adopted the 2012 International Building Code Regulations (IBC) at December’s regular meeting, it encountered unexpected resistance from local residents. The new code replaces the defunct Uniform Building Codes but, say Sandy and Ronald Edgington, is restrictive and not fully applicable to the small town of Sundance.

According to Mayor Paul Brooks, however, the conversion took place in 2009 and the December adoption of the 2012 IBC was an update rather than a completely new change. Like the UBC before it, the IBC is reissued every two or three years with updated information, while the UBC will never again be renewed.

“In 1997, they stopped doing UBC and converted to IBC – there were no more changes to the UBC codes,” explained Brad Marchant of Land Use Planning.

“What they did was took three or four different groups and combined them into one code…that simplified instead of having to pick and choose different things.”

Council Member Ken Denzin pointed out that Sundance is not alone in having adopted the IBC. He told the council that he had spoken to other communities including the Spearfish building inspector’s department to ask if they had encountered problems with it and been told that the IBC is essentially “the only game in town.”

“It stresses a lot more on safety, the fire aspect and structural safety,” added Marchant. “The UBC didn’t have a lot of that. It’s pretty much the same thing but more detailed.”

Though the council could understand why the Edgingtons may have been concerned about adopting the IBC, Council Member April Gill wondered if they may have mistakenly believed that the city adopted the entire code. There are 14 to 16 different codes included in the IBC and only those parts that are relevant to Sundance were adopted.

Brooks expressed his unwillingness to repeal the IBC because it formed the basis of six months of discussion between the municipalities of Crook County regarding the possibility of hiring a shared building inspector, which was dependent on each municipality working under IBC 2012.

“When the County Commissioners and the cities meet and talk about a building inspector, one of the things we think is essential is that everybody have exactly the same building code in place,” said Brooks.

“We feel it is a terrible disadvantage [not to] because, let’s face it, at some point everybody is going to divvy up money…in order to hire a building inspector. That building inspector needs uniformity, he can’t inspect UBC in Sundance and IBC 2013 in Pine Haven and IBC 2007 in Hulett.”

A universal building code will be an umbrella for the building inspector such that he will not have to learn differing regulations when travelling between towns, added the mayor.

“All these things are good for contractors too because, if you know the rules and the inspector isn’t there, you [still] know the rules,” he said.

Council Member Sheryl Klocker further noted that the code does not remove the possibility of variances, should a landowner wish to address Land Use Planning and request one.

“It’s not the prerogative of small town government to run roughshod over everybody,” said the mayor.

“Our prerogative is to try to make people get along and sometimes we put rules in that we don’t enforce very heavily but, if a guy comes in to complain, we have the ability to say we can help him because we have that rule.”

The council did not opt to consider a motion to repeal the 2012 International Building Code.