Saturday, October 8, 2011

Benevolent Baptists vs. Bloated Bureaucracy

I was recently made aware of a conflict in my neighborhood involving our local Baptist Church and recent legislation to update building codes.

At the center of the conflict is the following code 15A-3-113 which reads:

A new section IBC, Section 3401.6, is added as follows: "3401.6 Parapet bracing, wall anchors, and other appendages. Buildings constructed before 1975 shall have parapet bracing, wall anchors, and appendages such as cornices, spires, towers, tanks, signs, statuary, etc. evaluated by a licensed engineer when said building is undergoing reroofing, or alteration of or repair to said feature. Such parapet bracing, wall anchors, and appendages shall be evaluated in accordance with 75% of the seismic forces as specified in Section 1613. When allowed by the local building official, alternate methods of equivalent strength as referenced in an approved code under Utah Code, Subsection 15A-1-204(6)(a), will be considered when accompanied by engineer-sealed drawings, details, and calculations. When found to be deficient because of design or deteriorated condition, the engineer's recommendations to anchor, brace, reinforce, or remove the deficient feature shall be implemented.

In this particular case, the Baptist congregation had begun to replace the shingles on their  building in three phases a couple of years ago.  Each phase of the re-roof they pulled a permit with the city.  The third phase was to begin just a couple weeks ago.  However, when the contractor went to pull the permit, he was informed by the desk clerk that the above state statute was in effect and that in order to complete their roof repair they would need to have an engineer design a plan for seismic upgrades to include having bracing installed to tie together the roof trusses and the unreinforced masonry walls.  As you can probably guess, that is a very tall order for a small congregation of elderly worshipers. 

Obviously, something seems to have gone awry.  In discussing this particular section of code with a colleague familiar with the subject, he believes that the definition of a re-roof is to tear into the structural aspects of the roof rather than simply replacing the water barrier (like shingles and tar paper). However, it appears that city zoning inspectors differ in that interpretation.

I will be organizing a meeting between city zoning and the parishioner to see if we can introduce some common sense into the permitting process for this job.  If not, the next order of business will be to open a bill file and change the statute to compel municipal zoning enforcement to operate in a more reasonable fashion. 

Let's see what happens.

1 comment:

  1. Nice work, Jeremy! We could use more people in government like you.


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