After months of planning, the enactment of building codes for the rapidly growing southwest portion of Pottawatomie County is nearing reality.
The Pott County Commission is expected to adopt a resolution approving the codes Monday, Sept. 16, after conducting the requisite public hearing at its Sept. 9 meeting.
An accompanying agreement with the city of Manhattan to conduct the codes inspections is also on Monday’s agenda, with the Manhattan City Commission to consider the agreement at its Sept. 17 meeting.
If adopted, the building codes become effective for new structures within the Blue Township Sewer District for which building permits are issued on or after Jan. 1.
Representatives of Manhattan, Pott County, and area builders Monday lauded the planning process which began about a year ago.
“It’s been an excellent process, in part because of the county staff’s willingness to work on it,” said Brad Claussen, Manhattan codes official.
Brad Hartenstein, representing the Flint Hills Area Builders’ Association, agreed, noting that his members have always had a good working relationship with Manhattan.
The proposed building codes resolution dovetails with recently-updated Manhattan codes, identifying 2018 international standards for building, electrical, plumbing, fuel gas, mechanical, residential and fire.
Under the agreement, the city of Manhattan will perform the codes inspections and collect the fees. Pott County will be responsible for enforcement of any code violations, according to County Counselor John Watt.
“The process makes sense to me to have the city of Manhattan doing that (inspection), so you are not establishing a bureaucracy with staff, and I have seen no desire from the county commission to have countywide building codes,” Watt told commissioners earlier this year.
“It’s been a long process,” Commission Chairman Travis Altenhofen said Monday.
Commissioner Pat Weixelman agreed. “I think we’re finally there,” he said. “I’d like to thank everyone who’s been involved.”
In other business Monday:
• The commission adopted a resolution updating the county’s employee policy manual — the first update to the document in nine years.
“My goal is to review the document annually to see if anything significant needs to be changed,” said Crystal Malchose, human resources director.
Prior to adopting the manual, commissioners reviewed policy recommendations for employee mileage reimbursement, travel expenses, and loss of personal time off (PTO) if an employee is dismissed for cause.
• Peter Clark, public works director, said several heavy rain events in August exacerbated problems with gravel roads in the county.
“It seems like we’re spinning our wheels sometimes due to the damage that keeps coming down the pike,” Clark said.
Pott County received about 10 inches of rain in August, with a couple of rainfalls averaging between 4 and 6 inches, Clark said.
• Lori Feldkamp, director of Big Lakes Development Center, gave a quarterly report to the commission.
Feldkamp said two group homes affecting 12 persons were evacuated due to potential flooding earlier this year.
Although no flooding occurred, the evacuation provided an opportunity for remodeling of the homes, Feldkamp said.
Eighty-three percent of the funds needed to construct a new home has also been raised, Feldkamp told commissioners.
• The commission authorized the search for a county operations officer to replace Chad Kinsley, who was named county administrator last month, replacing Robert Reece.
• Nowak Construction, Goddard, was apparent low bidder for regional lift station improvements for the Irvine Acres Subdivision in Blue Township.
Nowak’s bid of $860,049 was below the engineer’s estimate of $893,220. Walters-Morgan, Manhattan, and Middlecreek Corp., Peabody, also submitted bids.
Clark will review the bids and make a recommendation for awarding the contract at the Sept. 16 meeting.
• The commission approved an agreement for the Kansas Department of Transportation to conduct a Local Road Safety Plan for county paved roads.
The plan, a prerequisite for the county receiving future road safety funds administered through KDOT, will cost the county $5,000, Clark said.
• Dru Clarke, rural St. George, asked the commission to repair a portion of Hopkins Creek Road near the intersection of Deane Road. The road is impassable at times and a safety threat to area residents, she said.
“It’s beyond belief this could happen when we know there’s treasury money available to fix this road,” Clarke said. “It’s just an ongoing problem that you could solve.”
Peter Clark said that portion of Hopkins Creek is a dirt road which receives minimum maintenance (twice annually) and has a history of people engaging in “sporting activities” which cause considerable damage.
Commissioners asked Clark to erect “road closed” signs until the issue can be addressed.