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Municipal Building Code Updates

Have you considered adopting or amending your city’s Building Codes lately? If not, now may be the time. In 2021, the legislature passed revisions to Local Government Code §214.212 and §214.216 which updated the requirements for adopting and amending the International Residential and Building Codes. Local Government Code §214.212 now adopts the 2012 International Residential Code (IRC) as the municipal residential building code in the State and Local Government Code §214.216 has adopted the 2012 International Building Code (IBC) as the municipal commercial building code in the State. If your city has already adopted the 2012 or above publications of the IRC or IBC, then you are in the clear, but if not, the legislature required municipalities to update codes to conform to the new state law by January 1, 2022. See Section 5 (b) of House Bill No. 738.

Previously, municipalities were given the option of establishing procedures for the adoption of local amendments to the IRC or IBC. However, after the passage of House Bill No. 738, while municipalities may still establish procedures for the adoption of local amendments to the IRC or IBC, they are subject to one new important requirement, a public hearing. A municipality must hold a public hearing prior to the adoption of any local amendments and must pass such amendments by ordinance. Tex. Loc. Gov’t. Code §214.212(e) and §212.216(f).

Unfortunately, the legislature did not give much guidance on what the public hearing procedure should look like, other than stating a public hearing must be held. The only mention of some sort of procedure regarding a public hearing is in Section 5 (b) of House Bill No. 738, where it states “municipalities shall, before January 1, 2022, establish rules and take other necessary actions to implement sections 214.212 and 214.216, Local Government Code…” What does this mean exactly? Well for one, as stated above, if a city has not already adopted or updated their IRC and IBC to the 2012 publications, then it needs to do so. As for the public hearing, it would be best practice to pass an ordinance establishing a procedure for them. These rules do not need to be complex by any means, as there are no specific requirements, but they should provide notice and an opportunity for the public to be heard. They could include provisions to make the proposed amendments available to the public prior to the hearing and set time restrictions on a citizen’s comments on the local amendments. It truly is up to the city on how they would like to conduct the hearing.

What is most important to note for this new legislation is that without holding a public hearing, a city may not adopt any local amendments, and while not explicitly stated, it can be reasonably inferred that failure to do so will result in any local amendments being null and void. While initially this may not seem like a major issue, the larger consequence would be that a city would not be able to enforce their own local amendments if the public hearing requirement is not followed.

Please do not rely on this article as legal advice. We can tell you what the law is, but until we know the facts of your given situation, we cannot provide legal guidance. This website is for informational purposes and not for the purposes of providing legal advice. Information about our commercial and business litigation practice can be found here.

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