Manitou Council approves first reading of building code ordinance

News  /  Village

By William J. Dagendesh

I would like to have a positive impact in my city and town. Crystal Karr

 During its March 7 meeting, Manitou Springs City Council voted 6-0 to approve the first reading on an ordinance to adopt the latest international building codes. Councilor Michelle Whetherhult was excused from the meeting.

Ordinance No. 0223 is to repeal and reenact Chapter 15.04 (building code) of the Manitou Springs Municipal Code to adopt, by reference, the 2023 edition of the Pikes Peak Regional Building Code.

The reading was held so council could adopt the 2023 edition of the PPRBC and the latest International Codes. The state requires adoption of the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code to increase energy efficiency and reduce operating costs over a building’s lifetime.

As amended, the proposed IECC meets state requirements, provided it’s adopted by June 30 of this year.

Planning Director Hannah Van Nimwegen-McGuire noted that an intergovernmental agreement between the city of Colorado Springs and El Paso County confirmed the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department as a governmental facility in 1966. It was designed to provide uniform service to their jurisdictions.

Five suburban jurisdictions, including Manitou Springs, later entered into the same service agreement for the administration and enforcement of their building and construction codes.

Every three years, the International Code Council revises international codes. During the first and second quarters of 2018, all member jurisdictions adopted the current version of the PPRBC. However, costs and complexity associated with adopting new codes inspired the region to adopt new model codes on a six-year cycle.

Virjinia Koultchitzka, the PPRBD’s attorney, said one of the questions addressed during the Feb. 28 work session focused on the definition of “historic structure.” Koultchitzka said she and her colleagues reviewed the Land Use Development Code and Title 15 and 17 of the City Code, also referred to as Municipal Code.

“If Title 15 contains the definition of historic structure, which is the definition that we adopt in the ordinance proposed before you … [It] will be incorporated into the PPRBC once we have completed adoption of that ordinance,” Koultchitzka said.

“Title 17 focuses on historic preservation regulations; it does not contain a definition of historic structure. So, your definition of historic structure goes back to Title 15. What we have included in the ordinance is verbatim, a definition of the term as defined in your city code or municipal code, very specific to Title 15.”

A second reading/public hearing will take place on Tuesday, March 21.

Also, council approved the first reading of Ordinance No. 0123 to repeal and re-enact Section 13.04.020 of the Manitou Springs Code of Ordinances concerning connection required, Section 13.08.050 connection charge and Section 13.20.010 charges established.

The reading clarified the water and sewer municipal codes on issues that have caused confusion in the past. In her memorandum to council, Finance Director Rebecca Davis said the Water/Sewer Municipal Code doesn’t allow tap fees to be waived. Rather than state this, it doesn’t provide exceptions when tap fees could be waived.

“The verbiage ‘this charge cannot be waived’ has been added to Section 13.08.050, and ‘cannot be waived’ has been added to section 13.20.010 to clearly indicate tap fees cannot be waived,” Davis wrote.

Although Section 13.06.010 “sewage system required for all property” states that “new septic tanks or other individual sewage disposal systems are prohibited,” Section 13.04.020 contains the following sentence that has led to different interpretations:

“Under unusual circumstances, such as unique topographical characteristics, the city administrator or the public services director, with health department approval, may waive this connection requirement.”

According to Davis, another sentence has been added: “The unusual circumstances apply only to existing septic tanks or other existing individual sewage disposal systems. Per Code Section 13.06.010, new septic tanks or other individual sewage disposal systems are prohibited.”

City Attorney Jeff Parker said he received a copy of the ordinance that adopted section 13.04.020 and 13.06.010.

“They were both adopted or amended by the same ordinance … and stated that, in the ‘whereas’ clause of the ordinance, the intent of these two provisions was to prohibit new sewer/septic systems, altogether, within existing septic systems when a sewer line comes within 400 feet, unless there are unusual circumstances,” Parker said.

Also, council approved a five-year extension to an intergovernmental agreement for automatic aid for fire protection and emergency services between the Crystal Park Metropolitan District and the city of Manitou Springs.

This agreement supports and updates a long-standing relationship between the communities that enhances emergency response capabilities, personnel and equipment for both parties.

According to Manitou Springs Fire Chief John Forsett, Manitou and the Crystal Park Metropolitan District have shared an emergency services relationship dating back to the development of the original Crystal Park community more than 100 years ago.

The initial emergency response for that development was arranged through a handshake mutual aid agreement with Manitou Springs Fire Department. As the metropolitan district grew, the community sought to found its own fire and emergency resources to more rapidly deploy responders and equipment within their boundaries.

In 2015, the city of Manitou and the Crystal Park Metropolitan District, recognizing the need for improving capacity through training, personnel and equipment, formalized this long-standing relationship by entering into an IGA for providing all-hazards emergency services.

The 2015 agreement provided for automatic renewal on an annual basis after five years. However, it is believed that updating the agreement will best serve the communities as it focuses on new emergency medical response policies and emergency medical transport.

“Emergency services don’t function without cooperation amongst other agencies. So, this is a renewal of an IGA that was worked on back in 2015. It’s been through the Metropolitan District for approval in Crystal Park and now I bring it forward to you for approval,” Forsett said.

Crystal Park Fire Chief Steve Leander added, “We (Crystal Park) enjoy a great working relationship with Manitou Springs and I would like to keep that moving forward.”

Lastly, council voted unanimously to appoint Crystal Karr as a member of the Housing Advisory Board.

Karr earned a master’s degree from Saint Paul School of Theology and a bachelor’s from Ottawa University. She served as Exchange and Parenting Time Program manager, executive director of Family Promise of Colorado Springs and Homeless Prevention and Response coordinator for Colorado Springs.

Karr said she wants to use her skills to enhance homeless awareness.

“I would like to have a positive impact in my city and town, and want to use my gifts and understanding about housing issues and homeless issues, to provide those to the city of Manitou Springs,” Karr said.

Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Fortuin said the HAB is excited about Karr’s appointment.

“Crystal attended the last HAB meeting via Zoom and they are very excited about her being appointed as a very qualified member,” Fortuin said.

Mayor John Graham added, “You have our appreciation for stepping up and volunteering.”

A City Council work session is planned for 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 14.

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