What if your town didn't have a building code — would you want it to? That question has been occupying the minds of the Regional Planning Commission in Morrow County, Ohio. The commission set up a committee to study the issue as far back as 2011. This month, the topic sparked a "heated and lengthy debate" at the August 21 Planning Commission meeting, reports the Morrow County Sentinel ("Heated debate on building codes dominates RPC session," by Donna Carver).
"Morrow County is one of the few counties in the state that does not enforce the state building code," the paper reports. "The commission had to decide if they will send their recommendation in support of code enforcement to the county commissioners."
"We have residential building codes in this county," Planning Commission member Bill Kreeger told his colleagues. "That is a fact. It is a state code. It is for everyone in the state. We are choosing not to enforce that code. So the question is, do we want to enforce this or not?"
In a place where the code has never been enforced, a question like that triggers an examination of fundamental issues. ""What if I want to live in a hole in the ground?" one member asked Fire and Safety commissioner John Yust, a firefighter who had spoken up in favor of code enforcement. "I understand ingress and egress. I know it can cause a problem for you but still what if I want to be able to live like that? Will I still have a right to be able to build like that?"
"Another member stated that he wanted to remind everybody that over time we try to learn from our mistakes," the paper reports. "He said that the state building codes are really just a collection of lessons learned."
And as Bill Kreeger pointed out, Ohio's code is already the law in the state. "We have the building codes," he said. "The building codes are already the law and that we have just ignored it."