County Holds Off Adopting Updated Building Codes

SNOW HILL –  County leaders opted not to begin enforcing the latest international building codes this week.

On Tuesday, staff presented the Worcester County Commissioners with information on the three international codes adopted by the state, and therefore required to be adopted in Worcester County. A motion to adopt the codes — the International Building Code, the International Residential Code and the International Energy Conservation Code — failed however, with just two commissioners voting in support of it.

“Worcester County has got a reputation for being harder to build than any of the surrounding counties,” said Commissioner Ted Elder, one of those who voted against adoption of the codes.

According to Ed Tudor, the county’s director of development review and permitting, every time the state adopts a new edition of the codes the local jurisdictions have to follow suit.

“This is a process we go through every three years,” he said.

He said that as it typically did, the county would simply need to approve a resolution bringing forward the local amendments that have been passed over the years.

“The standards do allow local jurisdictions to make limited local amendments to the codes, which we have done at the beginning of each three-year code cycle for many years,” he wrote in his report to the commissioners. “The local amendments are generally necessary to align the provisions of the building codes with other provisions of our zoning ordinance for things like permit expiration times and submittal requirements.”

Commissioner Josh Nordstrom made a motion to move forward with adopting the new codes. Commissioner Chip Bertino said he was bothered by the fact that the codes were international.

“It’s developed in the United States but they make it available internationally,” Tudor explained.

Elder said he thought the codes were getting out of hand.

“Some of it is so strict that it’s holding back builders and people building houses,” he said. “I just would like to remind everybody that in this county we’ve got several homes 100, 150 years old that didn’t have any building codes and they’ve survived all this time.”

He said he would vote against Nordstrom’s motion because he was concerned that the codes were getting too strict.

Elder, Bertino, Commissioner Joe Mitrecic, Commissioner Jim Bunting and Commissioner Bud Church voted against the motion, which failed.

Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Shannahan said the county was required to adopt the codes within 12 months of the date they were effective in the state, which was in March 2019.

“I brought it forward to you today because we’ve had builders requesting to use it,” Tudor said.

Mitrecic said the commissioners could address the issue again in March 2020.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.