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County looking at new building code requirements

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors is seeking public input about the possibility of new building code requirements outside the Natchez city limits.

Board attorney Scott Slover said the state legislature passed a bill this year mandating that all counties enact one of three nationwide building code standards.

The standards the state offered for consideration are the last three editions of the International Building Code and any other codes adopted by the Mississippi Building Code Council.

Though the bill is effective Aug. 1, Slover said the measure allows the supervisors to opt out of enacting a building code.

The City of Natchez already has a code in place, but Adams County outside the city limits does not have similar building regulations.

To gauge the public’s reaction to the proposed codes, the supervisors have tentatively scheduled a public hearing for June 3. They’ve also said they want to hear the public’s opinion before then.

“The residents are the ones who have to pay the permitting fees and have to go through the permitting process, so obviously the board wants to hear their thoughts on the matter,” Slover said.

“We want to follow the legislature, but we want to make sure the public’s opinions haven’t changed.”

Board President Darryl Grennell said his gut feeling on the matter is residents outside the city limits won’t likely support implementing building codes.

“Some years ago, the city (of Natchez) was talking about annexing areas outside the city limits, and there were mass meetings of residents who lived outside the city limits who were totally against any type of annexation, and one of the biggest reasons was because they didn’t want to deal with codes,” Grennell said.

“There are people outside the city limits who are capable of doing some plumbing and electrical things themselves, without hiring a master plumber or master electrician in order to hook up a ceiling fan or light outside.”

But because people can change their minds, Grennell said the board wanted the public to show up to the hearing.

“Maybe some people have changed their mind and said, ‘Hey, I want building codes,’” Grennell said. “I don’t think there is anything wrong with listening to the public input, especially the people this will effect. If the people want that and the board feels this is something the people want, we can implement it.”

Supervisor Calvin Butler said he, too, thinks the residents of the county’s unincorporated areas will oppose the measure.

“A lot of people move to the county because they don’t have to go through the red tape there,” he said.

If the supervisors decide to implement the code, it will have to be done quickly, Slover said.

The new law requires counties have building codes in place or opt out within 120 days of the law’s effective date.

“Whatever it is they adopt, it will have to be as streamlined as possible,” Slover said. “People do not like long, drawn-out answers, they want to know ‘Can I build this and if I can what do I need to do?’”

Grennell said if a code is put in place the board would have to create a department, contract with the city for code inspection or contract with a private sector inspector.