Leavenworth County commissioners are planning a public hearing next month to discuss the proposed adoption of building codes for unincorporated areas of the county.

Currently, the county government has no building codes. But last year, a committee was formed to study the possible adoption of building codes.

Krystal Voth, interim director of the Leavenworth County Planning and Zoning Department, presented recommendations from the committee Wednesday during a meeting of the Leavenworth County Commission.

Commissioners voted to have an Oct. 21 public hearing on the proposed adoption of building codes. Four commissioners voted in favor of the motion. Commissioner Jeff Culbertson abstained.

Voth said the committee recommended the adoption of the 2006 International Residential Code and 2006 International Building Code.

She said these codes are recommended because of the anticipated ease of their implementation.

"This is something builders should be very familiar with," she said.

She said the codes, if approved, would apply to single family homes and commercial buildings. She said the codes would be applied only to new construction.

Based on comments made Wednesday by commissioners, Voth does not believe the codes, if approved, would be applied to additions made to existing structures.

She said the codes may be applied to an existing structure that is rebuilt after a fire or other disaster if more than 50% of the structure was damaged.

Voth said the codes would not apply to agricultural structures.

Commission Chairman Doug Smith stressed the county would not be conducting inspections of new structures.

"We also need to establish a Board of Appeals," Voth said.

She said it would be important for builders to have a place to go for appeals. But she added that some appeals could be handled at the administrative level.

County Administrator Mark Loughry said most builders probably already follow the 2006 codes or something more stringent.

"This is no big deal to them because they’re going to do it anyway," he said.

But he said, without codes in place, insurance companies will only pay to bring back structures to the condition they were before a loss. If there are codes in place, insurance companies have to pay to rebuild structures according to the codes.

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