December 6, 2010 Meeting With Duane Curry


Codes discussion meeting with Duane Curry, Alice Jones, Margie Stelzer, John Capillo, Dick Futrell

1)      Alice Jones’ Spring planning class at EKU:

a)     Class presentation to the Planning Commission in a special session in the  Richmond City Council Chambers on April 26at 6:00 p.m. Possibly invite the Fiscal Court, Home Builders Association, others. Reserve the Richmond City Council meeting room.

b)     The class meets Tues/Thru at 3:30-5:00

c)      The focus will be on “What is Green” (building, planning, etc.) the difference between “codes” and “planning regulations.”

d)     Students will: 6 weeks of in class work becoming familiar with the academics; do web searches, construct interview questions from talking with Curtis Pike, Egret’s Cove,  et al (Jan. 1st – March 1st); conduct interviews with Stony Run developers, Berea, Richmond and Madison County government officials,; come up with descriptions of the “frames” through which various stakeholders see ideas like green, sustainability, etc. The outcome, hopefully, will be a report that will suggest how to frame (a meta-frame) a codes/ discussion specifically for Madison County, Berea, and Richmond.

e)      Possible green development categories that the class may focus on:

(1)    Energy Source

(2)   Water and wastewater management (especially in relation to Madison County’s  karst topography.)

(3)   Experimental building code that uses performance standards  like those listed for our geographical area in the International Residential Code (i.e. snow loads, seismic standards, etc.)

(4)   Farmland preservation to maintain the rural agriculture character

(5)   Habitat preservation where development is balanced with  carrying capacity of the land     ( i.e.: water holding capacity of the soil, carbon carrying capacity of vegetation)

2)     In January Richmond, Berea, and Madison County may have discussions about joint land use planning. One “stake” encouraging this talk is the cost effectiveness of common planning, it seems rational to consolidate services. CSEPP (Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program) is also involved.

3)     Starting in January 2011,  as a condition for receiving State Energy Program funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment   the state of Kentucky will begin enforcement of the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (I.E.C.C.)

(4)     Various things noted during the meeting:

a)     Duane in response to a question: No one in the county is talking green codes. The state will start enforcing 2009 energy codes as a requirement of recent fed $. Margie has information about this.

b)     Dick Martin has been saying builders should use 24” centers instead of 16” for some time, Ball Homes is only ones who do so, but not out of any sustainability motivations – it’s the bottom line for them. *This may be an example of a confluence of interests (stakes) in the moment that could encourage the emergence of actual sustainability practices. The economics of some of the green, sustainability practices may be becoming favorable for multiple interests.

c)      *Using “performance standards” in the codes is a possibility. The advantage being that one can then come up with designs that meet standards rather than following “directives” type of codes.

d)     Duane’s office has access to on-line information sources about codes and so on. There is a computer available for builders and other to use to access this information.

e)      *A major interest in the county is in preserving farmland. This is an example of an interest (something in which some people have a stake) in preservation of the character of the county. One way to frame these interests/stakes is as the environmental services (carbon sinks, water quality) offered by preservation/development of these county characteristics.

f)      *A comparison was made between planning regulations where a builder who chooses to develop a project in a particular way (e.g. LEEDS, green landscaping, etc.) would petition the planning commission; and regulations that would assume that projects would follow those practices and a developer would petition to vary from those practices. The example was “Cluster One” development.

g)     It may be possible to put together “green planning kits” for considerations of “alternative” waste, water use/collection, and etc. methods in the design of a development projects.

h)     *Some talk about alternative ways of holding land: There are different models around; any model has to provide a governance system that covers who is responsible for what, how are decisions to be made, etc. about safety, esthetics, and so on. This is a possible discussion to open with the planning commission, it would require a good proposal for different models that would “protect” or meet the concerns of the commission. There would need to be a process through which arguments could be made so that those presenting a possibility would not have to start over each time an idea came up.

i)       There was discussion about a project on Stony Run at Redhouse Rd. that involved 1-acre lots around the perimeter of a large tract of land with farmable land in the middle to which lot owners would have access. It was a good project but was turned down because the regulations say lots must be 10 acres. The project met the intent of the planning documents but was not approved due to the concern that “others” might see it as a precedent that could be taken advantage of. If there were a process through which any such project could go in order to show that it did meet the intent then it would give the commission a way to protect against such a project becoming a “loophole.”

j)       *The coalition currently working on the codes/regulations issue can work parallel to Alice’s class by identifying some actual models of alternative practices/development in terms of the specific interests operating in Madison County in particular. A presentation of this work might go with the presentation Alice’s class makes.

k)     The codes office is not concerned with if a structure can be insured or mortgaged. So long as the structure meets the intent of the code requirements it can be approved. Experimental building techniques are possible but must meet engineering and safety standards. The connection between codes/regulations and insurance/mortgage is by default, not design, coming out of the post WW II housing development and its FHA insurance support.



About greenbuildingcodes

I live on a ridge top in the Curtis Pike Intentional Community in Madison County Kentucky. For the past year and a half, we have been working with our county planning and zoning board to encourage the development and expansion of sustainable building projects in Madison County.
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