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."