City Council to Discuss Chapter 1306

In the course of following Norman Butler’s efforts to relocate Chapati into the vacant Church of the Rock building, I became aware of Chapter 1306 of the 2003 Minnesota State Building Code. In my amateur summary, Chapter 1306 requires the installation of fire sprinklers in all projects, regardless of any other fire and safety elements that are part of the project.

Northfield apparently adopted Chapter 1306 in October of 2003, with no public discussion. The city also chose to include the Subparagraph 2 on New and Existing Buildings, which many architects, building owners, and contractors have told me is financially prohibitive for historic structures.

The problem with it appears to be that trying to reto-fit a sprinkler system into these projects can be aesthetically damaging and economically devastating for hundred year-old buildings.

In a rather unusual twist, the end of the chapter of Chapter 1306 requires that a municipality submit a copy of the ordinance adopting MSBC 1306 to the state within 15 days of adoption. Although Northfield apparently adopted 1306 in October of 2003, they did not submit the materials to the state until August of 2004.

A number of municipalities that adopted 1306 have “unadopted” it, including Hastings. Apparently the complete lack of flexibility of the requirements have proved unworkable in the city’s historic downtown.

The Northfield City Council will be discussing Chapter 1306 at Monday night’s meeting. Business and building owners, as well as architects and contractors, are urged to attend.