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New Hope Borough Council Adopts Admittedly Impractical Building Codes; Will Appoint Committee to Make Workable

(L to R) John Burke, Bill Scandone, T.J. Walsh, and Alison Kingsley.

(L to R) John Burke, Bill Scandone, T.J. Walsh, and Alison Kingsley.

New Hope Borough Council amended local building code ordinances Tuesday night by adopting Pennsylvania’s Uniform Construction Code (UCC) standards pertaining to “uncertified buildings” — defined in state UCC as being an edifice that was “built before April 27, 1927.”

Those structures would be considered “legally occupied” until the owner proposes to “renovate, add an addition, alter or change the occupancy of the building.” Then, that modification must comply with the UCC in areas like “maximum story height, minimum allowable construction type based on floor area, vertical opening and shaft protection requirements, minimum number of exits, maximum travel distances to exits, egress illumination, minimum widths and heights for exit doors, exit stairs, exit ramps, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, heat and smoke detectors, automatic sprinkler systems and occupancy and incidental use separations.”

Council members Alison Kingsley and Laurie McHugh expressed their opposition to the move early on, and Connie Gering motioned to table the proposal.

Council member Ken Maisel questioned the need for a delay, asking, “What’s a month get us?”

Borough lawyer T.J. Walsh explained that the proposal had been initiated to avoid harming businesses, to give the borough more flexibility, and achieve safety goals.

Borough Manager John Burke indicated that he “would like to see them [UCC standards] adopted tonight, and try to fix them later.” Council President Bill Scandone agreed.

Council member and local real estate agent Kingsley asked “to eliminate or consolidate some of the fire and occupancy inspection process.”

Walsh underscored his view that the proposed standards were not punitive in nature. “It may be aggravating, but its not penal,” he said.

“The idea was to put this in effect, and then form a committee to figure out how to make it better,” asserted Scandone. “I request that we pass these standards with the proviso that we create a committee to figure how to make it work.”

The proposal passed unanimously.

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Charlie Sahner

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein


  • In other words “uh oh we’re over our heads…let’s kick the can on this. I know, at some future date we will ‘form a committee’ (and I’ll make damn sure I’m not on that committee)…meeting adjourned”

  • Ok, I am confused about this…what is the proposal? Is the borough trying to keep the status quo or make the buildings safe? Who’s side are they on? The businesses or the living that enter them?

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