Monday, January 24, 2022

Aldermen Grant Building Owners 1 Year to Fix Balconies

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor

alyssa.schnugg@hottytoddy.com

Duvall’s balcony was deemed unsafe to withhold any weight. Photo via Google maps.

Several Square building owners have one year to get their balconies in compliance with the International Building Code.

The city reviews the balconies every five years. Building owners were required to submit inspection reports from certified structural engineers. Two weeks ago, the Board gave a handful of businesses two weeks to submit their reports to the city’s Building Department.

With almost all reports in, five balconies were shown to not be in compliance with the International Building Code for commercial buildings that mandates balconies should safely hold 100 pounds per square foot.

Chris Carter, building official for Oxford, told the Board that five balconies were not in compliance – the balcony above My Favorite Shoes, two balconies on the Something Southern building, the balcony above Square Books Jr. and the balcony on the Duvall’s building.

Carter said he was still waiting on the reports for the two balconies on the Thompson Building; however, during the meeting, the building owner told the aldermen he just received the report from the engineer. He said one balcony facing Jackson Avenue East was deemed to be not in compliance with the code; however, the newer balcony facing South Lamar Boulevard was in compliance.

According to the structural engineer reports, the balcony above My Favorite Shoes can safely hold 30 pounds per square feet or 150 people; the balconies on Something Southern can hold 41 pounds per square feet or 50 people per balcony; Square Books Jr. can hold 40 pounds per square feet or six people and the Thompson House balcony can hold 60 pounds per square feet or 50 people.

The differences are attributed to how big the balconies are and also depending on the engineer who inspected the balcony.

Carter said the balcony on the Duvall’s building was deemed unsafe to withstand any weight and should be removed and rebuilt.

Mayor Robyn Tannehill questioned whether Duvall’s balcony was safe to remain up even without allowing anyone on it.

“If there’s any danger of it falling, maybe it should be removed,” she said.

Carter said he would contact the engineer who made the report to see if they felt the balcony was safe to remain as long as no one stood on it.

The Board voted to allow the other balconies to remain but cut their allowed occupancy to half of what was recommended by the engineers and gave the businesses one year to get the balconies up to code.

Carter said he could not recommend allowing any balcony that did not meet code to be used.

“I don’t mean to be dramatic, but the reality is, when elevated balconies fail people get hurt, people get maimed for life, people die,” he said.


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