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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

Board serves important role for city

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

SIKESTON - While most city boards and committees are just looking for interested citizens, the city seeks members employed in specific trades for its Board of Appeals.

The Board of Appeals make decisions on appeals for building code permits, variances and violations, according Tom Bridger, public works director.

Working with building inspectors, the Board seeks to ensure buildings are "as close to the letter of the code as we can dictate it," added Carl Muench who has served on the BOCA Board for over six years. "If there's something that's different, then we have to rule on it, or if they have a question about something, like their interpretation - either we accept it or we don't."

"When a resident is informed they are in violation of building codes that they think is in error, then they write a letter of request to take it to the Board of Appeals," Bridger said.

Though still frequently referred to as the BOCA Board of Appeals or BOCA Board after the Building Officials and Code Administrators code, the city has actually updated from the BOCA Code. "Now we're part of the International Code," said Bridger. "Three different codes joined together to make up the International Code - BOCA was one, Southern Building Code was another."

The board makes recommendations for ordinances related to building standards and requirements, but is not an advisory board. "They don't report to Council," Bridger said.

The City first established building codes on March 5, 1928. According to what Bridger can make out from the hand-written City Council minutes, "at the point it was mostly for fire protection reasons."

Although they now encompass much more than just fire hazard considerations, Muench said the purpose for building codes today is pretty much the same. "It's for the life safety of the public."

Sikeston's Board of Appeals was established in October 1981. "It's revised every time there's a new building code adopted," Bridger said.

Meetings are scheduled as needed for appeals. "Generally we don't have to meet that often," Muench said. "Only when there's something we have to make a ruling on."

"It varies - three years ago I probably went through 10 or 12," Bridger agreed, estimating there are typically two to three appeals in any given year.

The seven voting members serve staggered, three-year terms. Presently the board consists of Tom Fowler, Mont Mitchell, Carl Muench, Norman Woods, Emory McCauley, Terry Bryant and Mike Jobe.

"We're supposed to get a variety people on the board," Muench said. "I'm an engineer."

In addition to registered engineers, registered architects, general licensed contractors, licensed heating and cooling contractors, licensed plumbers, licensed electricians, electrical suppliers, plumbing suppliers, building suppliers and licensed real estate brokers are among those preferred for this board, Bridger said.

Although it would be nice to have as many trades as possible represented, the Board duplicates or substitutes for these trades as needed.

Bridger and a code official related to the project being appealed also attend meetings along with the voting board members.

This is part four in a series of articles on area government boards, commissions and committees.