Commission approves new building codes

In other action:

At its Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commission:

• Awarded a bid to Jerry Thompson to lease lands near Loudy-Simpson Park to grow wheat. Thompson submitted the only bid. His lease is for six years, and he is required to pay the county one-third of his annual profits from farming the land.

• Approved a new contract with Lefever Building Systems, which is the project manager for a new Road and Bridge Department vehicle barn. The county will pay the company 1.6 percent of the total construction project cost to cover performance and construction bond fees. Construction costs are not yet known. The county's insurance company, County Technical Services, Inc., will pay all costs.

• Tabled a resolution to adopt the 2003 International Energy Conservation Code, a building code for energy efficiency standards. The state Legislature requires all counties with building codes adopt the Energy Conservation Code by July 1.

— Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray doesn't want to put unnecessary burdens on people, he said.

Requiring builders to hire an engineer to design a foundation for nearly every new structure in the county - a measure the Commission approved 2-1 on Tuesday - is unnecessary, Gray said.

Before, engineers were called when ground soil tests show potential danger to a structure's stability.

Officials and audience members estimated hiring an engineer for foundation design could cost about $800 to $1,000.

Despite Gray's protests, the Commission approved updating the county building codes from the 2000 versions to the 2006 revisions, which included an engineered foundation requirement.

Commissioner Tom Mathers said the update was required by the state.

Gray said it's an ongoing problem that updating codes always seems to lead to more regulations.

"Every time we change codes, it's more strict, more obstructive, more onerous," Gray said. "Never does a code take something away."

When it comes to structures built on stable ground, ones that might not warrant engineered foundation fixes to be structurally secure, it adds unreasonable costs, he said.

"We're adding costs. We're adding layers," Gray said. "That bothers me."

Local builder Nick Charchalis, owner of local Kozy Homes, Inc., however, said he supported the move.

"Counties don't get sued," he said. "Builders get sued. You can do a soils test and it'll check out that the soils are good, but then something happens, like a crack in a wall, and any builder or subcontractor that was involved in that is liable."

Requiring an engineer's approval on building foundations makes it less likely there will be structural problems later, Charchalis said.

Certain building types are exempt, such as residential structures not intended for living space, such as garages, residential additions 200 square feet in size or less or seasonal homes. Some commercial utility and storage buildings also are exempt.

Gray said he did not want to legislate someone's ability to build on their land, whether engineered foundations were structurally better or not.

"There's a certain amount of personal responsibility, too," he said.

Mathers said that was a good point, but questioned how to draw the line between landowners building for themselves and professional contractors building for the market.

"If you want to go out and build your own house, that's one thing," Mathers said. "But, if we have a developer come in here and build all sorts of houses, we should do what we can to make sure those are safe."

Gray remained unconvinced.

"I think we're becoming part of the problem," he said.

Airport not a sure thing

With funding mostly secure for renovations at the Moffat County Regional Airport, all that's left is to award project bids.

And that's where hang-ups remain.

Officials plan to install a new manufactured terminal building to replace the old terminal and repave the parking lot. Plans are to complete both projects this year, but one or both may be delayed until 2009.

Bids received for the proposed terminal construction project came in over budget, prompting the Commission to table its approval until its June 9 meeting.

In total, between grants, city and county funds, officials have $178,625 to spend on the terminal. Airport Manager Jerry Hoberg said there could be another $10,000 for the project through the airport's own funds.

Engineers from Armstrong Consultants, of Grand Junction, were hired to prepare estimates for the projects before seeking bids. They tabbed the terminal for $182,500 in construction costs.

However, the lowest bid received Tuesday from Craig-based Domson Excavation and Trucking totaled $249,150, about $50,000 more than available funding.

Ryan Pritchett, Armstrong Consultants client services manager, said more funds might be possible through subsequent grants since all bids were higher than initial estimates.

Two bids for asphalt to repave the airport parking lot, however, were within the project's budgeted scope.

Elam Construction submitted the low bid of $78,852, but the Commission tabled approving that contract until next week.

The parking lot project is funded through a Colorado Department of Local Affairs grant totaling $92,673.

Hoberg said he would prefer to go ahead and do the parking lot this year, even if that means completing the parking lot before the terminal.

"I don't want to lose out on doing that parking lot," he said. "Not at these prices."

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

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