Assembly to Work Out Details of Building Code Exemption for Homes Outside City

logo-w-sunburstKayla Desroches/KMXT

Kodiak Island Borough staff is looking for a number of clarifications on how the assembly imagines the 2012 international residential code would look in the borough.

This summer, the borough assembly caused tension with the Kodiak City Council when it decided to roll back to the 1997 uniform building code – in part to relax engineering requirements for home owner / builders. The city and borough share a building department, and the switch in code left the borough and city at odds on a number of points in the code from insurance to emergency services.

The assembly is now looking at reverting back to the 2012 IRC, but with certain exemptions for homes outside the city limits. The assembly considered a few different versions of what that would look like at its regular meeting last night.

Borough Manager Michael Powers posed questions about language and what type of building the exemptions would apply to, whether accessory dwellings, duplexes, or just single-family residences. He also asked whether the borough would consider charging fees for building permits on those exempted structures.

The questions will be the beginning of a series of meetings during which the assembly will work out the details of the ordinance, but some assemblymen had questions about the bigger picture.

Assemblyman Matt Van Daele said they need to get to the root of the issue: whether they’re trying to provide affordable housing or creating a new zoning category in which people have freedom to build whatever they want however they want.

Assemblyman Scott Smiley, meanwhile, said he’s heard a couple of different purposes.

“I’m still a little bit confused about what the real goal is here. On one hand we have the comments that it’s directed to try to help young couples get affordable housing, and yet some of the things that have accompanied the dialogue about this are more like an argument against government over regulation. The two don’t match to me.”

By the end of the discussion, the assembly had chosen one version of the ordinance to work from: version four, which includes code exemptions for “owner occupied residential buildings and accessory buildings associated with residential use.” The assembly also postponed its decision to the next regular meeting so that it has time to work out the issues Powers brought up.

As far as the city and borough’s memorandum of agreement, which the city council said it might break if the borough did not switch back to the 2012 IRC, Powers said he’s met with city staff, and the MOA is on track.

“We are confident that crafting the MOA once the ordinance is done, it will not pose any significant problems and the city has volunteered to take the first stab at that, so we’ve set that into motion and some of the language is already being worked on for the MOA.”

The assembly will continue to work on the draft ordinance at future meetings. The next time the assemblymen will get together is this coming Wednesday, and that’ll be for a joint work session between the assembly and the council.

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