Assembly Votes Down Building Code Exemptions

Members of the public at the beginning of the regular meeting. Kayla Desroches/KMXT
Members of the public at the beginning of the regular meeting. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Members of the community filled the room at the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly regular meeting last night, and the majority of those to speak to the assembly would comment on possible building code exemptions.

The borough assembly has been considering those exemptions as a way to relax engineering requirements for home-owner builders while also returning to the 2012 residential building code. In an original attempt to loosen restrictions last summer, the assembly switched to the 1997 international residential code – a move which Assemblyman Kyle Crow championed.

The borough assembly has since reneged due to displeasure from the City Council. The City of Kodiak and the Kodiak Island Borough share one building department and the code difference puts them at odds.

The possible exemptions also brought up safety concerns.  Members of the fire service community have said that not building a structure to code could hinder rescues in the case of an emergency. Many members of the public spoke up on their own hopes or worries at the meeting last night.


Those were public comments from the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly’s regular meeting addressing possible building code exemptions in the borough.

The assembly reviewed an amendment which would revert the borough back to the 2012 IRC with exemptions. It split that amendment in half so that it could consider the code re-adoption separately, and the assembly voted 6 – 0 to pick the 2012 IRC back up.

It then turned to the exemptions.

Assemblyman Scott Smiley said he would vote against them. He said in his own experience constructing an addition to his family’s house, building inspectors help catch details that might cause safety issues.

“I think that all of the arguments that are surrounding this are off the central point which is we have a responsibility to the citizens of this borough to have careful thought going into building houses, and there must be some guidance to that.”

When it came down to the vote, the assembly was at first split 3 – 3 with Assemblymen Kyle Crow, Dennis Symmons, and Dave Townsend voting for the exemptions, and Assemblymen Larry LeDoux, Scott Smiley, and Matt Van Daele against. The clerk was about to call on the borough mayor to decide the tie, but a last minute vote change from Crow rendered that unnecessary. His shift to a ‘no’ vote failed the motion.

However, that also gives Crow the chance to bring the code exemptions back before the assembly. As the borough clerk stated earlier in the meeting: if the vote fails, the “prevailing side” has the option to bring it back for reconsideration.

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