Tonight, the Pierre City Commission heard two separate proposals to change city ordinance. The first proposed change is a request to update the city’s building code; the second proposal adds fines to the portion of ordinance related to building code and property maintenance violations.
The City of Pierre is considering adoption of the 2018 edition of the International I-Codes. The I-Codes are an internationally recognized set of building standards designed to ensure the safety and integrity of new and remodeled structures, as well as other construction projects. Additionally, adopting modern code helps keep property insurance more affordable in Pierre.
The International Code Council updates the I-Codes every three years. City staff review the new I-Codes as they are issued and amend the codes to align with local needs.
Current city ordinance provides a limited mechanism for enforcement of building code or property maintenance violations. The requested changes would add a fine structure for those violations. The City Building Department and the Police Department work cooperatively to enforce building and property codes.
According to City Building Official Matt Elberson property owner rights remain well intact with the proposed change.
“When a violation is reported to the city, staff will make contact with the property owner and work with that property owner to bring the property into compliance –just like we do now,” said Elberson. “This potential change would provide the city with a local resource for those situations when property owners remain chronically out of compliance.”
Under the proposal, property owners would be subject to fines ranging from $100 up to $250 if they do not work toward compliance or reach compliance in the allotted 45 days.
“Our goal is always voluntary compliance,” said Chief Jones. “Unfortunately, we have circumstances that eventually land in front of a judge because property remains unsanitary or unsafe. Those situations are often years in the making and serve as a drain on financial and staff resources.”
City staff hope the requested ordinance change will aid in more immediate remedies for property violations. However, legal action through the court system would remain an option for the city and property owners alike.
“I think this is an important tool for the livability of our neighborhoods and really the livability of our whole community,” said Commissioner Vona Johnson.
Additionally, the proposed changes would include fines for people working without proper building permits.
The commission is expected to vote on the ordinance changes at the March 23 commission meeting.