Glenwood Springs City Council updates building codes |

Glenwood Springs City Council updates building codes

An updated requirement for sprinkler systems in new residential developments could raise building costs in Glenwood Springs but also save lives, Fire Chief Gary Tillotson said.

“Given the magnitude of fires we’re starting to see, a sprinkler system won’t prevent a home from burning, but it could save lives,” Tillotson said Thursday during the Glenwood Springs City Council meeting.

Residential sprinkler system requirements have been on the books for years, but the city exempted small-scale new construction, such as one- and two-family units, city documents state.

“I don’t think it’s wise for us to continue kicking the can down the road on what is a minimum requirement in many communities around the world,” Tillotson said.

The new requirement is part of a series of building code updates, aligning the city’s codes with state and national standards. Glenwood Springs’ building codes were last updated in 2017, city documents state.

Council Member Paula Stepp said the increased cost of building homes was concerning as the cost of living continues to rise.

“My dilemma is we need housing, affordable housing and places we can build,” Stepp said, asking if there was a possibility to include fee waivers supporting affordable housing initiatives.

Assistant City Manager Jen Ooton said the fee waivers would not be baked into the codes, but city staff could work with developers during the permitting process as they do with other fee waiver incentives.

“There is a cost to having sprinkler systems, but what is the cost of a life,” Ooton asked. “We really think it is important to do this.”

City staff reported the cost of the sprinkler systems could average about $6 per square foot and would be required in new homes and new additional dwelling units built separate from existing structures.

Council Member Shelley Kaup made a motion to approve the second reading of the building code updates, which was seconded by Council Member Tony Hershey.

The motion was approved unanimously.

Consent agenda changes

The adoption of a pedestrian and bicycle plan, aka the MOVE study, was pulled from the council’s consent agenda and moved to a later regular session.

Kaup also requested to pull a significant upgrade to City Hall’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system off the consent agenda.

Pulling the item gave Kaup the opportunity to discuss with city staff whether the upgrade was needed before the city set new energy efficiency standards.

Parks and Recreation Director Brian Smith said city staff seek every opportunity to increase energy efficiency when replacing old equipment, but the upgrade could not wait any longer.

“This project is critical,” Smith said. “The system has already failed.”

With an anticipated cost of about $123,000, the project could retrofit 35 variable air valves and install a new building-automation control system for City Hall’s HVAC system, city documents state.

Kaup moved to approve the upgrade, which was seconded by Stepp and unanimously approved.

Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.