Sunday, March 9, 2014
By Keith Edwards email@example.com
RICHMOND -- The state building code rejected by residents at the annual town meeting earlier this year is back before voters again.
This time it's a referendum question on the Election Day ballot.
The town has been without a building code since voters at the annual town meeting in April shot down a proposal to adopt the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code. At the time residents said the code was unnecessary and expressed concern about the potential additional cost of construction due to meeting the code.
The new state code took effect in 2010. However, municipalities with fewer than 4,000 residents are not required to adopt the new code, according to Kathy Chamberlain-Robitaille, who works for the state Fire Marshal's Office and the Maine Bureau of Building Codes and Standards.
Richmond's population, according to U.S. Census data, is about 3,400.
Residents at the annual town meeting were told the town could either adopt the state code, or not have any code at all. They chose to go without a building code.
Now they're being asked to reconsider that choice. The code they are being asked to approve is the same code they rejected in April.
"The language is the same; we're not doing anything different," Town Manager Marian Anderson said. "The select board's hope was there would be broader participation, with more people engaged than at a traditional town meeting, because it is a presidential election. And they wanted to get the question out to everyone."
Anderson said selectmen have not made a recommendation on whether to adopt the code or not, but rather just voted to place it on the ballot for residents to decide.
Anderson and Chamberlain-Robitaille both said the town can adopt the code or not, but the town cannot adopt its own code, or make changes to the state code. They said the code is meant to create a uniform set of rules, so contractors and others know what standards they must meet in building projects.
Ryan Chandler, the town's code enforcement officer, said in a recent town newsletter that the state building code is a set of minimum safety standards for building construction. He noted the standards only apply to new work on a home, so existing homes would not have to meet the standards unless they undergo renovations. And in that case only the new work would have to meet the standards, not the rest of the home, according to Chandler.
Also on the local ballot Tuesday is a three-way race to fill an unexpired term on the Board of Selectmen until the June 2013 town elections. The position became vacant when Daniel Dunton resigned from the post earlier this year.
Seeking the selectmen's position are: Timothy E. Arnold, Fred W. Browne, and Peter J. Warner.
Voting Tuesday is from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Richmond High School.
Keith Edwards -- 621-5647