WHEAT RIDGE, CO – collaborative efforts between the City, the Mayor’s Building Code Task Force and the business community led to loosening some permit requirements and fee reductions at the May 10, 2010 City Council meeting. The Council unanimously adopted changes to the Building Code and to contractor licensing requirements in an effort to attract businesses and reinvestment to the City.
“These changes will make it easier for residents and contractors to do business in the City,” said Mayor Jerry DiTullio. “As future development and redevelopment occurs in the City, we need to make sure that we are not creating obstacles for businesses, property owners and developers that prevent them from doing efficient business with us.”
Specifically, the changes to the Building Code include:
- Reduced base building permit fee from $30.50 to $26.50 for all building permits, and even greater reductions for various small residential building permits, such as furnace and hot water heaters, and window replacements
- Added flexibility to the bathroom occupancy ratio requirements to allow for a higher occupancy rate without increasing the number of restrooms
- Eliminated the requirement for a permit for the following home improvements: construction of a residential property fence up to six feet in height, residential accessory structures, i.e., a shed under 120 square feet, and residential exterior siding replacement
- Removed the mid-roof inspection requirement
- Reduced the floodplain review fees for certain fences, sheds and decks
In July of 2009, a Building Division Assessment was completed by Steve Thomas, Certified Building Official with Colorado Code Consulting, LLC. Following the review of this assessment and discussion about adoption of the 2006 International Building Codes, a Mayoral Task Force was created in 2010 to evaluate the proposed code amendments and discuss issues related to contractor licensing and inspections. The Mayor’s Building Code Task Force was comprised of business owners, elected officials, representatives from business associations, and the Fire Marshals from Arvada and Wheat Ridge Fire.
“The elimination of a mid-roof inspections was particularly important to me,” said Mayor DiTullio. “While I see the value of the previous policy in terms of consumer protection, we had several complaints from consumers and the contractor community that the mid-roof inspection was an inconvenience and cost them time and money.”
John Schumacher, Chief Building Official added, “These changes were the result of a collaborative process between two citizen/contractor task forces; therefore, the City strategically built-in flexibility in certain areas of the Code to encourage adaptive reuse of existing buildings. This is critical to the overall goals of the City’s revitalization efforts.”
District II Councilmember Mike Stites, who supported the adopted amendments, stated, “Many of the buildings that exist in the City were built under a different building code than what the City enforces today. Over time, as these codes have changed based on industry standards, the buildings have stayed the same. Bringing the property up to code can be a very costly endeavor, discouraging investment in our City.”
District I Councilmember Davis Reinhart added, “The members of the Mayor’s Building Code Task Force had great discussions about the role of the City in protecting consumers through Building Code requirements such as when a permit is necessary and/or an inspection. We felt that on several of these Code issues, consumers can protect themselves and in the case of permits for smaller home improvements a permit should not be required.”
Ken Johnstone, Director of Community Development added, “These changes build on our ongoing efforts across all functions of the Community Development Department to improve customer service and create more streamlined approvals. A broader range of over-the-counter permit services will be provided to our customers later this year.”
The City of Wheat Ridge is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week online at www.ci.wheatridge.co.us. Business owners or residents can access building information by clicking on “Departments,” click again on “Community Development,” and again on “Building & Inspections.”
For media inquiries, please contact Heather Geyer, Assistant to the City Manager, at 303-235-2826 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.