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Gilbert Arizona Code Adoption

jar546

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An updated set of standardized building codes is set to go before the Gilbert Town Council for possible adoption this summer, but the proposal is drawing staunch opposition from conservative activists in the town who see the regulations as a government overreach.

Gilbert last adopted a code update in 2008 and currently uses the 2006 edition of the International Code Council’s recommended building standards. The codes include standards for residential and commercial buildings as well as fire-safety regulations.

A group of conservative activists, led by Gilbert resident Rusdon Ray and blogger Anita Christy, is urging the council to reject the code updates and adopt a new set of life/safety measures unique to the town. The group last week started an online petition with a goal of 10,000 signatures but has just 14 names so far.

The proposed code update is making its way through several Valley cities and has already been adopted by Phoenix, Scottsdale and Avondale, Plan Review and Inspection manager Larry Taylor said.

In Gilbert, officials are working through their own amendments and plan to release a draft proposal on June 17, Taylor said. With no formal meetings scheduled in July, the Town Council likely will review the codes on Aug. 1, he said.

While the revised building codes do include some stricter requirements — drains in basement window wells, tamper-resistant electrical outlets and high-efficiency light bulbs — they also loosen restrictions on several other building components.

The codes come from the International Code Council, a group formed in the late 1990s to bring uniformity to the building industry. Prior to formation of the ICC, there were three major code organizations in the U.S.

The first set of ICC codes were published in 2000, and the organization releases an update every three years. The updated language is reviewed by a Maricopa Association of Governments committee, which recommends certain amendments specific to the region.

By the time the code language arrives at the Town Council dais, it will have gone through a rigorous public process that includes several public meetings with stakeholder groups and interested residents.

Officials have held meetings with the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona, Gilbert Chamber of Commerce and Small Business Alliance, and the general public had two opportunities to review the codes at an open house and Design Review Board meeting last month.

The May 1 open house generated perhaps the most input from the public at large, with about 25 or 30 residents in attendance, Taylor said.

If Gilbert were to reject the building codes, the town’s regulations would be inconsistent with those in surrounding communities, posing a problem for contractors who work in multiple cities, Taylor said.

Insurance ratings, which come around every five years and are due for an update this fall, also would likely take a “big hit” if the town does not adopt the most current set of building codes, Taylor said.

Gilbert Chamber of Commerce President Kathy Tilque said her organization has not taken a formal position on the codes but took an informal survey of its membership.

“We are finding that our businesses are supportive of having one set of building codes the various municipalities will be using instead of each community using a different set of codes,” Tilque said. “This consistency will provide a much simpler guideline for those companies who do business in more than one community.”

Small Business Alliance President Lisa Rigler said the town has been “proactive and transparent” in working to educate the public and involve stakeholders in the code update. The SBA’s Free Enterprise Committee has identified certain code provisions they consider unreasonable and will continue vetting the changes, Rigler said.
 
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