CLINTON — The Clinton City Council approved the second consideration of an amended resolution Tuesday night that states the city will adopt the 2006 International Plumbing Code.

The council heard a lengthy debate regarding the choice between the IPC and the 2000 Uniform Plumbing Code. Under the time reserved in the agenda for audience comment, Clinton County Supervisor and former Fire Marshal Grant Wilke addressed the council in support of the UPC. Wilke said that as elected officials, the council is given the trust and confidence of citizens and empowered to improve their welfare. He then gave the council credit for “making a change in the right direction” by adopting a building code for the city. He noted he had presented the council with information regarding the differences between the two codes and stated he highly supports the adoption of the UPC.

Wilke referenced state law, noting the city could not set local standards and requirements lower that what the state requires. He said the codes came about because of accidents, incidents and injuries and stated the code is the minimum standard. He urged the city to do the right thing for the city for the future.

Wilke said some have said that the IPC is compatible with all codes, but advised he did not believe that to be true.

He stated that the IPC references 14 of 16 chapters from the UPC and remarked that the UPC tries to be a standalone document, incorporating sufficient information regarding various topics.

He said that the UPC is the preferred code of the state and preferred by most contractors. He urged the council to adopt the UPC and support the people who use it.

Clinton resident Don Hansen then addressed the council, asking who benefits from a weaker plumbing code.

“If we went with the IPC, who would benefit from that? Certainly not the public. We, the citizens of Clinton, as far as I’m concerned, deserve the strongest and the best code we can possibly have,” Hansen said. “Why waste any of our valuable time to go through everything? Why don’t we just adopt the UPC code and be done with it?”

Clinton resident Highland Nichols told the board that after spending 40 years in construction, he is thoroughly familiar with following a set of standards. He said that if the UPC had been in place in Clinton when his house was built, he would be able to get more money for it now that he is selling it. He said that with his new home, which is to be constructed, he sat down with the contractor and stated he wanted it built to code standards.

Nichols said he hopes the council would enact the UPC, saying it is the mechanical standard for the industry and is specific enough, preventing misunderstandings. He asserted that the IPC is open to individual interpretation and would involve great cost in training inspectors and purchasing books in relation to the IPC. Nichols said that people experienced with the UPC would train the city in the use of the code, free of charge.

“So it just makes sense for the city of Clinton, in a cost-effective way to use the UPC,” Nichols said.

Nichols added the issue is not about union versus non-union support of one code over another, or about whether the state legislature “stuck their nose into the Clinton city business” in requiring a building code in Clinton.

“What this is about, ladies and gentlemen, is the safety and the health of the citizens of Clinton. And you are charged with your duty as the city council to protect that safety and health,” Nichols said.

Bill Schweitzer, North Central Regional Manager for the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, said he didn’t have much to add to the discussion after the previous speakers addressed the issue so eloquently. He said he sent UPC books to the mayor and council, as well as a comparison detailing the differences between the UPC and IPC. He noted the book features a listing of organizations that contributed to the code and book, offering several examples including the American Society of Safety Engineers and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association. Schweitzer said the main concern of IAPMO is public health and that is why those who contribute to the code try to make sure the code covers everything. He added that as a plumber for over 30 years, he favors the UPC.

Rita Swearingen, regional manager of government relations for the International Code Council, said both codes protect life, health and safety, but noted the IPC is not an installation code, but more of a performance code. Swearingen offered several examples of cities and counties that have adopted the code. She acknowledged the IPC references a lot of manufacturers’ requirements, but said the IPC is “about six years ahead of the UPC.” She said the IPC is designed to work together with the family of I-codes the city already has adopted.

Following further questions regarding the differences between the two codes, Ward 1 Councilman Bob Soesbe made a motion to amend the ordinance to read choosing between the 2006 IPC and the 2006 UPC, instead of the 2000 UPC. The motion failed by a vote of 5 to 1. Then, At-Large Councilman Ron Mallicoat offered a motion to strike the words “either/or” and “Uniform Plumbing Code” from the ordinance, leaving it to read for the approval of the International Plumbing Code. At-Large Councilman Mark Vulich seconded the motion and the amendment to the ordinance was approved by a vote of 5 to 1 with Soesbe voting against the amendment. A second consideration of the amended ordinance passed by a vote of 5 to 1 with Soesbe again voting against the measure.

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