By BEN KLEIN
The City of Warren Building Code Board of Appeals approved a variance for fire-transparent windows on the east side of the new Northwest Savings Bank building under construction in downtown Warren.
Rodney Lindsey of R.W. Larson Associates, P.C. told the board that the windows on the east side of the new building facing the parking area behind the Jefferson DeFrees Family Center should be considered a public way and exempt from the code.
If an adjacent property owner should build in the space in the future, a Restrictive Covenant would go into effect and Northwest would comply with the code.
"The request is for the relief to allow just standard openings in that window, considering a public way at this point in time since there is nothing constructed in the area. A restrictive covenant on Northwest is ready to file should the adjacent property owner build in that area they could either block up the windows or change to a fire-rated type to comply with the code," Lindsey said. "Our request is really just to provide the standard windows since there is nothing in the area."
According to state building codes and the International Building Code Table "where an exterior wall of a building is adjacent to the property lot line, such wall must meet certain fire ratings set out in the codes, including requirements that effect whether and what type of windows may be placed in such wall."
"What are we talking about cost-wise on this?," Harvey Stone, building code board of appeals member, asked. "I assume this is the whole reason you don't want to do it is because it's more expensive."
"Code doesn't recognize cost, but it is definite. The difference in the windows to fire rate each one is probably $10,000 to $13,000 a pop," Lindsey said. "So there would be some significant increase. That's why at this given moment in time, considering there is nothing there, the relief would likely be as is and then should that building be built, then either, one, it would be blocked up or changed to that fire rating window."
"Is there any reason we can't accept this variance?" Stone asked. "Is there something in the code that prohibits us from doing this?"
"I see no reason not to accept it," board member Bob Slocum said.
The variance passed with both Slocum and Stone voting to approve the request and board member Angela Dart abstaining.