Sparks Fly Over New Electrical/Building Codes

The Manhattan city commission was divided over the initial talks regarding new building codes on Tuesday night at city hall.

The commission reviewed the 2012 international codes, and the 2011 national electrical code, and gave direction to city staff to provide more data analysis on items such as cost of building within the new codes.  The codes themselves were presented by Manhattan building official Brad Claussen, Fire Marshal Rick Stillwagon, and Plans Examiner Ryan Courtright.

President of the American Instute of Architects in the Flint Hills Ben Moore says the codes are a good idea, but with some changes for local applications which curb some of what he considers more draconian regulations involving construction.

Local firefighters union representative Tim Davenport told the commission the codes should be put in place for the safety of firefighters and residents within the community.

Flint Hills Builders Association president Patrick Schutter said his organization approves of the new codes with local amendments, but worries about the ability for local builders to compete with surrounding areas without the regulations.

Mayor John Matta also believes the regulations could hamper growth, and more building regulations would be detrimental for the city as it puts a undue burden on homeowners and builders.

Commissioner Karen McCulloh disagreed, and pointed out that the codes would ensure the safety of firefighters and residents.

Commissioner Rich Jankovich says he sees merit in both arguments,and wants to find out what the new codes would add to the cost of building.  Jankovich said he also has a personal stake in firefighter safety as his son is a firefighter, and said “I hate to say it, but the cost of a house is not the same as a cost of a life.”

The commission also approved an ordinance that issued industrial revenue bonds to CivicPlus for a new five story structure located in downtown Manhattan.  The bond would go towards the construction of the 50,000 square foot office space.