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Wheat Ridge Endorses the Least Restrictive Environment and Further Empowers the Build Code Advisory Board

On Monday, February 28, 2011, Wheat Ridge City Council approved changes to the Building Code Advisory Board.  These actions reflect the City’s efforts to create an open for business environment as well as support revitalization efforts.

 The Building Code Advisory Board acts as a hearing board on appeals to decisions of the Chief Building Official, determines the suitability of alternate materials and methods of construction, and provides for reasonable interpretations of the International Codes. I am pleased that one of the changes Council made to the role of the Board was to strengthen the appeal rights of applicants.  The appeals process is intended to work in a similar manner to the variance process found in our Zoning Code.  As a City, we need to support the Least Restrictive Environment, or LRE, making it easier for residents and businesses to work in the City of Wheat Ridge.

 Councilmember Davis Reinhart, District I, who helped lead the effort to develop the Board changes noted, “I believe it is very important for an individual doing business in the City to have the right to appeal to a citizen board, and I am pleased with the outcome of the approved changes.”

 The Board composition was decreased from eight to five members with a quorum requirement of three members. “We hope to provide quicker review of appeals and minimize applicant delays.  Councilmember Joe DeMott, District IV, added “We will continue to have technical expertise on the Board including one licensed engineer, one licensed architect, one builder and two members from fields related to the construction industry.”

 “Another important change to the scope of the Board is broadening the authority to include economic hardship, within the limitations that do not violate law,” said Councilmember Mike Stites, District III.  “These changes are not intended to grant a license to violate federal or state law, nor are they intended to endanger public safety.”

 The regulatory environment of the City has changed since its incorporation in 1969 creating unique challenges for the City.  “Many of the buildings that exist in the City were built in decades past and under different versions of the Uniform and International Building Codes,” added Councilmember Reinhart.  “Our goal is to break down barriers to redevelopment, with consideration of the uniqueness of our built environment.”

 In addition to the Building Code Advisory Board changes noted above, the City Council will allow homeowners to conduct electrical work in their own homes.  In an effort to provide a higher level of customer service, cell phone numbers for Building Inspector(s) will be provided as needed.  Citizens are encouraged to contact the Building Division staff at 303-235-2855 with questions about inspections.   Information on how to access Building Division information online is available below.       

 “These efforts as well as other changes made within the past year are a reflection of the City’s ongoing commitment to be open for business and to continually evaluate our regulatory environment,” said Ken Johnstone, Director of Community Development.  “The Mayor’s Building Code Task Force and the 2009 Building Code Division Assessment by Steve Thomas helped lay the foundation for such changes to occur.”

 The City of Wheat Ridge is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week online at Business owners or residents can access building information by clicking on “Departments,” click again on “Community Development,” and again on “Building & Inspections.”  Building Code Advisory Board information can be accessed by clicking on “Government,” and again on “Boards and Commissions,” where the Building Code Advisory page is listed.