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Tribe adopts building code

Scott Csernyik

7/16/2001 12:00:00 AM

To help ensure the safety of its residents while also guaranteeing a standard for construction activities, a Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Building Code has been adopted for the Isabella Reservation community.

The measure-which took effect July 16-was unanimously approved at the regular session of Tribal Council on July 3.

"It's going to help the people, not hurt them," stated Ronald J. Jackson prior to the adoption of Resolution 01-091. Jackson also serves as the Tribe's Housing Division manager. Community members were informed of the decision in a July 3 letter from Chief Phillip G. Peters Sr.

"As of July 16, 2001 (the effective date of the ordinance), any construction activity taking place on Tribal or allotted lands will need to comply with the new ordinance. The ordinance adopts the new 2000 International Mechanical, Plumbing, Building and Residential codes. It also adopts the 1999 National Electrical Code."

The Tribal Building Code is applicable to Tribal or allotted lands on the Isabella Reservation in District 1 and District 2 (Saganing).

Saginaw Chippewa Planning Director William Mrdeza said implementation of the building code was necessary given the tremendous amount of residential and commercial construction taking place on the Isabella Reservation.

"This allows the Tribe to act like any other form of government in protecting the health and welfare of its residents," Mrdeza said. "The building code acts as a guide for minimum standards to be met in a variety of trades. It also provides a means for the Tribe to enforce those measures.

"The work needs to be performed by someone who is licensed. There also is a component which provides for an inspection program."

Mrdeza also stated the building code allows for legal recourse against contractors who may not perform quality work.

"None of us want to pay a premium price for substandard work," he added.

Upon the code's implementation, construction on trust or Tribal lands will first require a building permit.

"Permit fees are based upon the cost of the building project with a minimum fee of $15," the letter further stated. "The ordinance also establishes the Office of Tribal Building Code Enforcement within the Planning Department and creates the position of Code Compliance Officer. Initially, it is anticipated the duties of compliance and enforcement will be contracted out until such time as the created position can be posted and filled."

Mrdeza said the reason for taking out a permit is to make sure the Tribe is aware of what activity is taking place.

"That way they can inspect it and make sure it meets the minimum standards so it is safe," he explained.

Tribal officials are hoping the action will be well-received by the community.

"This is not something the Tribe has dreamed up," he added.

The codes are created by the International Code Council (ICC), which was established in 1994 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing a single set of comprehensive and coordinated national model construction codes.

"Code enforcement officials, architects, engineers, designers and contractors can now work with a consistent set of requirements throughout the United States," according to information from the ICC Web site. "This uniform adoption would lead to consistent code enforcement and higher quality construction."