Springfield’s director of Building Development Services will ask City Council to approve “long overdue” changes to the city’s Nuisance and Housing Code.
Chris Straw explained to Council members Tuesday his department is proposing the city adopt the International Code Council’s 2012 International Property Maintenance Code for sections of Chapter 74, including the Housing and Apartment Safety articles, and amend it to fit local needs.
The code, he said, resolves internal conflicts currently between code sections, thus making language legally enforceable. For example, the proposed code contains specific requirements for plumbing fixtures and clarifications on how they must be supplied and operated.
"We've had at least one incident where the property owner went in, yes, he provided water for the tenant. The water line into the home was fine. What was under the house was bad. He cut it off where it was good, turned it up through the floor, into the living room, put a hose bib on it and provided a five-gallon bucket and said, 'there is your water supply,'" he said.
To solve the problem, Straw said he had to “work it around the sanitation side of it.” The new language makes it clear that plumbing fixtures must work properly, something he said current code doesn’t do.
Another example of what would be different if council approves the changes: under “exterior walls,” Straw wants to strike language that requires the structure “to be weather proofed and properly surface coated where required to prevent deterioration.” He said his department won’t deal with chipping paint.
"What I am going to deal with is, if there's a column on your front porch that you haven't maintained that is rotten, and that porch is going to fall, now I'll deal with that issue, Straw said.
According to Straw, his staff is overwhelmed. In 2016, they handled 11,200 service requests—about 2000 more than the year before, and he expects that number to be higher this year.
He anticipates the proposed changes will reduce conflicts and legal challenges and therefore make staff more efficient in their work.
According to Straw, the proposed code, which is updated every three years, has been adopted by 68 communities in Missouri. He called the code "solid" and pointed to 2012 when only two changes were made to it.
The issue is expected to be on City Council’s agenda early next month.