STATE OF NEW JERSEY
PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2016 SESSION
Assemblyman SCOTT T. RUMANA
District 40 (Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic)
Assemblyman JACK M. CIATTARELLI
District 16 (Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset)
Assemblywoman NANCY F. MUNOZ
District 21 (Morris, Somerset and Union)
Assemblyman KEVIN J. ROONEY
District 40 (Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic)
Requires evaluation of appropriateness of light frame construction for multiple dwellings and imposes moratorium on light frame construction until determination and recommendations are adopted.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.
An Act concerning light frame construction of multiple dwellings and amending P.L.1975, c.217.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. Section 5 of P.L.1975, c.217 (C.52:27D-123) is amended to read as follows:
5. a. The commissioner shall after public hearing pursuant to section 4 of the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-4) adopt a State Uniform Construction Code for the purpose of regulating the structural design, construction, maintenance and use of buildings or structures to be erected and alteration, renovation, rehabilitation, repair, maintenance, removal or demolition of buildings or structures already erected. Prior to the adoption of said code, the commissioner shall consult with the code advisory board and other departments, divisions, bureaus, boards, councils or other agencies of State Government heretofore authorized to establish or administer construction regulations.
Such prior consultations with departments, divisions, bureaus, boards, councils, or other agencies of State Government shall include but not be limited to consultation with the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services and the Public Health Council prior to adoption of a plumbing subcode pursuant to paragraph b. of this section. Said code shall include any code, rule or regulation incorporated therein by reference.
b. The code shall be divided into subcodes which may be adopted individually by the commissioner as he may from time to time consider appropriate. These subcodes shall include but not be limited to a building code, a plumbing code, an electrical code, an energy code, a fire prevention code, a manufactured or mobile home code and mechanical code.
These subcodes, except for the energy subcode, shall be adoptions of the model codes of the Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc., the National Electrical Code, and the National Standard Plumbing Code, provided that for good reasons, the commissioner may adopt as a subcode, a model code or standard of some other nationally recognized organization upon a finding that such model code or standard promotes the purposes of this act. The initial adoption of a model code or standard as a subcode shall constitute adoption of subsequent edition year publications of the model code or standard of such other nationally recognized organization, except as provided for in paragraphs (1) through (4) of this subsection. Adoption of publications shall not occur more frequently than once every three years; provided,
however, that a revision or amendment may be adopted at any time in the event that the commissioner finds that there exists an imminent peril to the public health, safety or welfare.
The energy subcode shall be based upon the model codes cited under this subsection or the International Energy Conservation Code. It may be amended or supplemented by the commissioner once before 2012 without regard to intervals between the adoption of the energy subcode in effect on the effective date of P.L.2009, c.106 (C.52:27D-122.2 et al.) and subsequent year revisions of that subcode. In amending or supplementing the energy subcode, the commissioner shall rely upon 10-year energy price projections provided by an institution of higher education within one year following the effective date of P.L.2009, c.106 (C.52:27D-122.2 et al.), and thereafter at three-year intervals. In developing the energy price projections, the institution of higher education shall consult with the Board of Public Utilities. The commissioner shall be authorized to amend the energy subcode to establish enhanced energy conservation construction requirements, the added cost of each of which may reasonably be recovered through energy conservation over a period of not more than seven years. Such requirements shall include provisions to ensure that, in all parts of the State the anticipated energy savings shall be similarly proportionate to the additional costs of energy subcode compliance.
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, the edition of a model code or standard in effect as a subcode as of July 1, 1995 shall continue in effect regardless of any publication of a subsequent edition of that model code or standard. Prior to establishing the effective date for any subsequent revision or amendment of any model code or standard adopted as a subcode, the commissioner shall review, in consultation with the code advisory board, the text of the revised or amended model code or standard and determine whether the amended or revised provisions of the model code are essential to carry out the intent and purpose of this act as viewed in contrast to the corresponding provisions of the subcode then currently in effect.
(2) In the event that the commissioner, pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection, determines that any amended or revised provision of a model code is essential to carry out the intent and purpose of this act as viewed in contrast to any corresponding provision of the subcode then currently in effect, the commissioner may then adopt that provision of the amended or revised model code.
(3) The commissioner, in consultation with the code advisory board, shall have the authority to review any model code or standard currently in effect as a subcode of the State Uniform Construction Code and compare it with previously adopted editions of the same model code or standard in order to determine if the subcode currently in effect is at least as consistent with the intent and purpose of this act as were previously adopted editions of the same model code or standard.
(4) In the event that the commissioner, after consultation with the code advisory board, determines pursuant to this subsection that a provision of a model code or standard currently in effect as a subcode of the State Uniform Construction Code is less consistent with the intent and purpose of this act than was the corresponding provision of a previously adopted edition of the same model code or standard, the commissioner may delete the provision in effect and substitute in its place the corresponding provision of the previously adopted edition of the same model code or standard determined to be more consistent with the intent and purpose of this act.
(5) The commissioner shall be authorized to adopt a barrier free subcode or to supplement or revise any model code adopted hereunder, for the purpose of insuring that adequate and sufficient features are available in buildings or structures so as to make them accessible to and usable by the physically handicapped. Multi-family residential buildings with four or more dwelling units in a single structure shall be constructed in accordance with the barrier free subcode; for the purposes of this subsection the term "multi-family residential buildings with four or more dwelling units in a single structure" shall not include buildings constructed as townhouses, which are single dwelling units with two or more stories of living space, exclusive of basement or attic, with most or all of the sleeping areas on one story and with most of the remaining habitable space, such as kitchen, living and dining areas, on another story, and with an independent entrance at or near grade level.
c. Any municipality through its construction official, and any State agency or political subdivision of the State may submit an application recommending to the commissioner that a State sponsored code change proposal be adopted. Such application shall contain such technical justification and shall be submitted in accordance with such rules of procedure as the commissioner may deem appropriate, except that whenever the State Board of Education shall determine that enhancements to the code are essential to the maintenance of a thorough and efficient system of education, the enhancements shall be made part of the code; provided that the amendments do not result in standards that fall below the adopted subcodes. The Commissioner of the Department of Education shall consult with the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs prior to publishing the intent of the State Board to adopt any amendments to the Uniform Construction Code. Upon adoption of any amendments by the State Board of Education they shall be transmitted forthwith to the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs who shall publish and incorporate the amendments as part of the Uniform Construction Code and the amendments shall be enforceable as if they had been adopted by the commissioner.
At least 45 days prior to the final date for the submission of amendments or code change proposals to the National Model Code Adoption Agency, the code of which has been adopted as a subcode under this act, the commissioner shall hold a public hearing in accordance with the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), at which testimony on any application recommending a State sponsored code change proposal will be heard.
The commissioner shall maintain a file of such applications, which shall be made available to the public upon request and upon payment of a fee to cover the cost of copying and mailing.
After public hearing, the code advisory board shall review any such applications and testimony and shall within 20 days of such hearing present its own recommendations to the commissioner.
The commissioner may adopt, reject or return such recommendations to the code advisory board for further deliberation. If adopted, any such proposal shall be presented to the subsequent meeting of the National Model Code Agency by the commissioner or by persons designated by the commissioner as a State sponsored code change proposal. Nothing herein, however, shall limit the right of any municipality, the department, or any other person from presenting amendments to the National Model Code Agency on its own initiative.
The commissioner may adopt further rules and regulations pursuant to this subsection and may modify the procedures herein described when a model code change hearing has been scheduled so as not to permit adequate time to meet such procedures.
d. (Deleted by amendment, P.L.1983, c.496.)
e. (1) As used in this subsection:
"Light frame construction" means any method of construction utilizing metal-plate-connected wood trusses, metal-plate-connected metal-web wood trusses, pin-end connected steel-web wood trusses, wooden I-joists, steel bar joists, solid-sawn wood joists, or composite wood joists as floor or roof system structural elements.
"Multiple dwelling" means the same as that term is defined pursuant to subsection (k) of section 3 of P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-3).
(2) The commissioner shall evaluate whether light frame construction is an appropriately safe method of constructing multiple dwellings, focusing specifically on the potential hazards that light frame construction poses in the event of a fire. If the commissioner determines that utilizing light frame construction is appropriate for multiple dwellings, the commissioner shall adopt, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), a light frame construction subcode, or may propose amendments to revise the appropriate model code adopted pursuant to this section, for the purpose of establishing adequate and appropriate standards for multiple dwellings designed utilizing light frame construction. If the commissioner determines that light frame construction is inappropriate for multiple dwellings, the commissioner shall adopt a rule prohibiting the use of light frame construction for multiple dwellings. The commissioner shall make his determination and, if appropriate, adopt a light frame construction subcode within two years of the effective date of P.L. , c. (pending before the Legislature as this bill).
(3) Following the effective date of P.L. , c. (pending before the Legislature as this bill), there shall be a moratorium up to two years on approving or commencing, or both, new construction of multiple dwellings utilizing light frame construction until such time as the commissioner determines the appropriateness of utilizing light frame construction for multiple dwellings and either deems it inappropriate or adopts standards for light frame construction pursuant to paragraph (2) of this subsection. If new standards for light frame construction are adopted, the commissioner shall provide for an expedited re-approval process for multiple dwellings approved, but not constructed, as a result of the moratorium. Nothing in this subsection shall prohibit the approval and construction of multiple dwellings utilizing heavy-frame construction, such as timber framing or steel framing.
(cf: P.L.2009, c.106, s.2)
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill would require the Commissioner of Community Affairs to evaluate whether light frame construction is an appropriately safe method of constructing multiple dwellings. If the commissioner determines that light frame construction is safe for multiple dwellings, he must establish adequate and appropriate standards for multiple dwellings containing three or more dwelling units designed utilizing light frame construction. If the commissioner determines that light frame construction is not safe for multiple dwellings, he must adopt a rule prohibiting the use of light frame construction for multiple dwellings. The bill provides the commissioner up to two years to make his determination.
This bill would also impose a moratorium on the approval and construction of multiple dwellings utilizing light frame construction until the commissioner makes his determination and, if appropriate, adopts standards for light frame construction. Projects approved, but not constructed because of the moratorium, will be subject to an expedited re-approval process once the commissioner makes a determination and adopts appropriate changes.
The bill is in response to the five-alarm fire that destroyed a 408-unit apartment building in Edgewater, New Jersey on January 21, 2015. The incident highlighted the extreme speed with which light frame construction, such as that used in the apartment complex that burned, can reach its failure point when exposed to fire. The fire chief in Edgewater blamed the wood construction and truss-style roof for the fire's rapid spread. Although the Edgewater fire caused no human fatalities, a sudden structural collapse caused by lightweight construction that quickly fails in a fire could have devastating results for residents and first responders.