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County places moratorium on building codes

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
Leavenworth County Courthouse

Leavenworth County commissioners have placed a moratorium on the enforcement of new building codes.

Commissioners voted Wednesday to put the moratorium in place as they establish an appeals board. The moratorium is scheduled to be in effect until March 1.

In December, commissioners adopted building codes for unincorporated areas of the county. However, they excluded Easton and Kickapoo townships from the codes.

The county previously did not have building codes for unincorporated areas.

During Wednesday’s meeting, County Counselor David Van Parys presented commissioners with a draft of an order for creating a board of building codes appeals.

Van Parys said the board could hear appeals in cases in which a developer’s interpretation of the codes differs from that of county staff members.

“I have it structured so it would not come to you,” Van Parys told commissioners.

He said decisions of the appeals board could not be appealed to the County Commission. But people could appeal the issues to Leavenworth County District Court.

Van Parys said the board would be made up of members with backgrounds in building trades and fire protection.

Van Parys suggested commissioners take time to review the proposed order.

“I would like to give you time to look at that,” he said.

He suggested they revisit the matter next week.

Van Parys recommended that commissioners impose a moratorium on the enforcement of the building codes until the end of February. He said the moratorium would give them time to approve the order and appoint people to serve on the appeals board.

Van Parys acknowledged this delays the implementation of the building codes. But he said there is no mechanism for resolving disputes regarding the codes at the present time.

Commissioner Mike Stieben said he would like to discuss a few aspects of the building codes including whether they should be applied to all of the county.

Van Parys suggested these issues can be brought up next week. He said commissioners can consider scheduling a work session at that time if they feel one is needed to discuss the issues.

Commissioners voted Wednesday to delay implementation of the building codes until March 1. Commissioner Jeff Culbertson abstained. The other four commissioners voted in favor of the motion.

Also Wednesday, commissioners discussed inviting Leavenworth County Health Officer Jamie Miller and local members of the Kansas Legislature to discuss the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

County Administrator Mark Loughry, who participated in the meeting by telephone, said he will reach out to local legislators to see if they will be available next week.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR

In other business

The Leavenworth County Commission:

• Approved an extension for a contract with TranSystems for additional work for an Eastern Gateway concept study. The county will pay the company up to $61,540 for the additional work.

• Approved an annual agreement with the Kansas Department of Transportation regarding noxious weed treatment.

The state pays the county government to treat noxious weeds in state highway rights-of-way located in the county.

Commissioners also approved the 2021 Leavenworth County Noxious Weed Program and the Noxious Weed Eradication Progress Report. Both documents will be submitted to the Kansas Department of Agriculture.