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Building code adoption tabled amid concerns from councilmembers, residents

The St. Charles County Council again tabled the adoption of international building codes governing residential and commercial construction and heard from some residents skeptical about adopting those changes.

Going back to February, the council has failed to adopt a bill updating a series of international residential, building, plumbing, mechanic, fire and electrical codes.  The county currently is using the 2009 international codes and typically amends it about every six years to include code changes. Similar code updates have been approved by some county municipalities.

But councilmembers Joe Cronin [District 1] and Joe Brazil [District 2] objected, saying some new safety requirements aren’t worth the cost, which could impact the county’s housing industry and raise the cost of homes and home repairs. Also, the 8,000-page international code is too encompassing and bureaucratic, they said.

The council gave the bill a first reading at its May 8 meeting. On May 30, the bill was tabled again to allow more review of changes that councilmembers and staff are proposing. But, at that meeting, a group of residents opposing the bill came before council echoing Cronin’s and Brazil’s concerns.

Cathy Lenihan, who lives in the St. Peters area, told the council that the county should not blindly adopt international building codes based on the promise of lower insurance premiums.

“We’ve heard that promise before,” she said.

Brenda Webb, of Saint Charles, said she isn’t opposed to codes but rather their broad reach and the fact that it is expensive and difficult for residents to obtain copies.

“We don’t want extreme codes, we want common-sense codes,” she said.

Bill Davis, who has developed commercial space throughout the county, said the permitting costs for buildings often are added to development costs, which are passed on to consumers.

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