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Garrett officials approve changes to building code

County opts out of sprinkler requirement

Elaine Blaisdell Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — The Board of Garrett County Commissioners unanimously voted to enact the 2012 editions of the International Residential, International Building and International Energy Conservation codes, with all local amendments, to become effective Sept. 28.

The amendments include the deletion of the requirement for automatic sprinkler systems in one- and two-family dwellings and the stairway geometry requirements in the new code. The deletion of the stairway geometry requirement returns the code to the steeper stair requirements that were made prior to 2009, according to Commissioner Gregan Crawford, who made the motion to approve at Tuesday’s meeting.

Jim Torrington, chief of the Permits and Inspections Division, explained the stairway geometry dimension to the commissioners.

A public hearing on the codes was held Aug. 21 and the commission decided to leave the public record open for 10 days because some county builders just learned of the stairway amendment. Comments included six requests for the steeper stair geometry and two for the opt-out provision for the residential fire sprinklers, according to Torrington.

“What we are being told (by the building industry), is sometimes this geometry lends itself to being very tricky and complex, especially in smaller homes,” said commission chairman Jim Raley.

The readoption of the building code will allow the county to opt out of the sprinkler mandate until 2015, according to a news release. Earlier this year, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed legislation that mandated sprinklers in new residential housing. In late June, John Nelson, director, department of planning and land development, and Torrington learned that if the county adopted its building code ordinance before Oct. 1, it could opt out of the new sprinkler requirement.

Also during the meeting, the following was discussed or approved:

• Heard a departmental update from the County Board of Elections.

• Heard an organizational update from the Chamber of Commerce.

• Heard an agency update from Garrett County Action Committee.

• Approved a $62,652 bid award from Timbrook Ford in Keyser, W.Va., for a dump truck for the facilities and maintenance department.

• Approved a bid award to Environmental Resources Management for a water and sewage master plan to be completed in October 2013. The total project cost is $99,943 and currently the finance department is preparing a $100,000 budget amendment.

• Approved 19 acres of standing timber located at the airport as surplus property. The area needs to be clear-cut in order to be in compliance with state licensing standards.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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