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Stories Added - March 2010
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Building codes updated as part of effort to lower ISO rating for Livingston fire department
Polk County Enterprise
LIVINGSTON — City County members agreed to adopt the 2009 International Codes on construction and fire protection Tuesday, updating the city’s building codes from the 2000 standards adopted in 2004. City Fire Marshal Mark Taylor and Community Development Coordinator Ben Buchanan recently completed a detailed review of the standards, which include requirements for the various construction trades including plumbing, electrical and fire prevention measures. The code update is part of a long-running effort by city and fire department officials to obtain a lower ISO rating by the Texas Department of Insurance. The rating is a large component used by insurance companies to determine premiums for fire insurance. The City of Livingston and the surrounding five-mile area currently has a 4 rating. The re-evaluation should lower the rating to at least 3 — which would result in a 2 percent reduction in insurance premiums for residential and commercial property owners. Taylor believes Livingston could get a rating of 2, which would bring a reduction of more than 10 percent. “Everyone’s worked real hard to make that a 2 and we want to get every point we can,” Taylor said. The rating is based on a wide variety of criteria including the response times from firefighters, availability of fire hydrants and the water distribution system. The code update will not change fees for building permits, City Manager Marilyn Sutton said. Buchanan added that contractors for most large commercial projects ask what standards are in place during predevelopment meetings. On smaller projects, handout packets are available when the owner or contractor obtains a building permit. I-69 Segment Meeting City officials attended a recent meeting of the I-69 Corridor Segment in Lufkin which reviewed the U.S. 59 footprint from Nacogdoches south to Fort Bend County. Mayor Clarke Evans said he disturbed by a plan that showed a bypass east of Livingston, but was later reassured by District Engineer Dennis Cooley that purpose of the meeting was to get feedback from local residents on potential routes. The segment committee includes two Polk County representatives, Kelly Ritch and J.V. Snook. Evans represents the City of Livingston on the committee. “I let them know it would have a devastating impact on retail businesses in addition to the tremendous cost of acquiring rights-ofway,” Evans said. Councilman Ray Luna asked why the route was even being considered. Evans said his impression was the Texas Department of Transportation had devised a “wish list” of projects and a private firm was acting as a facilitator, gathering input on the various possibilities for future highway routes. “The committee is made up of lay people and I was a little apprehensive at first,” Evans said. “They need some lay people to provide some common sense fast,” Luna said.