Starting March 25, permit applications must comply with accepted regulations 

(March 20, 2020) Despite refusing to adopt the state-required 2018 International Building Code at their last meeting, the Worcester County Commissioners relented and accepted them Tuesday. The state requires counties to adopt the code within a year of its own acceptance, giving Worcester County until March 25 to sign. 

The commissioners originally rejected adopting the new code in an Aug. 6 vote, saying they wanted to give builders more time to adjust to it. The biggest problem the commissioners had with the updated standards was its energy code portion regarding energy efficiency and the rate of air exchanges inside a structure. 

At the last meeting, commissioners called the new code hypocritical for allowing up to five air exchanges an hour if the builder took other steps to recover the loss of energy resulting from the higher rate of exchange such as better insulation. The previous code limited air exchanges per hour to three. 

The commissioners’ March 3 vote not to adopt the code was done to make a statement that they not agree with the code, County Commissioner Joseph Mitrecic said.

In his report, County Attorney Roscoe Leslie advised commissioners to adopt the amendments to be compliant with the state. He warned that without adopting the code, builders in Worcester County would be subject to the new code on March 25 without benefitting from previously accepted local amendments.

Kelly Shannahan, chief administrative assistant, noted that without the local amendments, the code would apply to all residential structures over 200 square feet, building permits would expire after 180 days and all construction in the floodplain would have an additional foot above the base flood elevation.

With the local amendments, the code applies to all residential structures over 500 square feet, building permits expire after one year and the builders can follow the local floodplain ordinance without the additional one-foot freeboard requirement. 

Ed Tudor, director of review and permitting, said that the county can institute further amendments, except for the energy conservation code or sprinkler requirements. 

Builders who submit a building permit application after March 25 will be subject to the new code.  

Elizabeth covers Worcester County issues for Ocean City Today. In 2018, she graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa with a bachelor of arts. After graduation, Elizabeth spent a year with Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Wilmington, Delaware.

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