County approves building codes

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
Leavenworth County commissioners approved building codes.

Leavenworth County commissioners have approved building codes for unincorporated areas of the county. But commissioners have excluded two townships from the codes.

Commissioner Jeff Culbertson asked Wednesday for Easton and Kickapoo townships to be excluded from the building codes.

The two townships are in the district he represents. Culbertson said his district is the only one in the county that has seen population decreases in recent years. He suggested excluding the two townships to help promote economic development in his district.

Culbertson said he spoke with the fire chiefs of the two townships and they do not have a problem with the townships being excluded from the building codes.

Commissioners voted Wednesday to adopt the 2006 International Building Code and 2006 International Residential Code for other unincorporated areas of the county. The codes will not go into effect until Jan. 1.

The vote was 4-1 with Commissioner Chad Schimke voting against the motion.

While cities within the county already have building codes, the county previously had not adopted building codes for unincorporated areas.

A committee was formed last year to study the possible adoption of building codes for the county. The group recommended the adoption of the codes that were approved by commissioners during Wednesday’s meeting. County officials made some modifications to the 2006 codes before the adoption.

According to Krystal Voth, planning and zoning director, the codes will be applied only to new construction in the county. Remodeling and repairs made to less than 51% of an existing structure will not have to meet the adopted codes.

County officials do not plan to start an inspection program as a result of the adoption of the codes.

Schimke expressed concern about the cost of a sprinkler requirement for business buildings. He argued requiring sprinklers can be expensive particularly in rural areas that lack the necessary infrastructure.

County Administrator Mark Loughry said sprinklers may make it possible for people to safely exit a building during a fire. He said response times by fire departments can be longer in rural areas than in cities.

Commissioner Vicky Kaaz said she does not want Leavenworth County to be known as a place where businesses can cut corners and save money while putting people at risk.

A motion to approve the building codes for all of Leavenworth County failed 2-3. Kaaz and Commissioner Mike Stieben voted for the motion.

Culbertson then made a motion to approve the building codes but exclude Easton and Kickapoo townships. And this is the motion that was approved.

Also Wednesday, commissioners approved the rezoning of land along the County Road 1 corridor south of Tonganxoie.

Commissioners approved a zoning for about 9,600 acres that corresponds with a future land use map for the corridor that was approved by commissioners in 2019.

The land use plan called for a variety of different types of zoning in the area including residential, commercial, mixed use and industrial.

The corridor includes the only Kansas Turnpike interchange in Leavenworth County.

A motion made by Stieben to refer the matter back to the Leavenworth County Planning Commission failed by a vote of 2-3. Stieben and Commission Chairman Mike Smith voted for the motion.

A motion to approve the zoning as proposed passed with a 3-2 vote. Stieben and Smith voted against it.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR

In other business

The Leavenworth County Commission:

• Approved an agreement with Finney and Turnipseed for construction inspection services for a bridge replacement project on 158th Street south of Kansas 32 Highway for a cost not to exceed $51,320.

• Accepted a proposal from Bartlett & West to investigate premature asphalt pavement failure related to dust abatement projects for an amount not to exceed $30,000.