By Anna Lothson
The proposed building and property code changes have created some buzz in the community.
To address this issue, the Village of Oak Park is hosting public forums that will allow property owners and managers, contractors, design professionals and the general public to learn more about proposed changes. The codes are currently under consideration by the village board.
The forums are scheduled for 5 – 6:30 p.m., Wed., March 6 and 7 – 8:30 p.m., Wed., March 13 at Village Hall, 123 Madison St.
Representatives from the building and property standards department, fire department and business services division will be on hand to discuss the proposed changes and answers questions.
The proposed local amendments, along with an overview of the changes, are posted online at www.oak-park.us/codeamendments. For more information, call (708) 358-5430 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. They reflect updates from the 2009 International Building Codes, along with local amendments.
From an administrative standpoint, the goal of the code updates is to tighten up administrative processes/penalties for work being performed without permits, shorten active time on plan reviews and permits, clarify what work does not need a permit.
In terms of construction, the code will tighten up requirements for site cleanup, security and, clarify requirements for dumpsters placed in the public right-of way and tree protection requirements. Safety issues related to tree house projects are also on the list.
The code changes also aim to add requirements for smoke alarms and sprinklers in certain new construction buildings. These updates have seen some backlash from developers and Realtors in the area.
A change is the requirement for fire sprinklers to be included in all new residential construction and new commercial construction projects that are 3,500 square feet and above. A fire safety separation requirement for restaurant kitchens that serve alcohol is another possible addition. There are no retroactive fire sprinkler requirements for existing residential buildings.
Meetings have been held with the Business Association Council, the Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce and the Oak Park Association of Realtors to update those with concerns.
Village staff presented a synapsis of the code updates at its meeting Monday; this will be reviewed by the Building Code Advisory Commission March 7 before being referred back to the village board. The village board anticipates discussing the final changes at its April 1 meeting before officially adopting any changes to the building code ordinance updates in May.