Houses may need safety doors

Josh Coffman

The planning commission’s University District Review Committee approved certification of the 21 student organization houses in the district for the upcoming year at its meeting Tuesday.

Many of the student groups at the meeting were unsure of what they would do after they received reports from the Bowling Green chief building inspector instructing them to install fire-resistant doors.

Andy Gillies, executive director of the planning commission, said this is the first year that both the city fire marshal and the city’s chief building inspector performed inspections of all the houses.

In previous years, only the fire marshal would inspect houses in the district. The fire marshal did not require the organizations to have the doors.

The building inspector was not at Tuesday’s meeting and could not be reached for comment yesterday.

“You’ve got two people looking at the same thing and coming up with two interpretations about what needs to be done,” Gillies said.

Gillies urged the 11 organizations still waiting for the building inspector’s approval to wait until the commission can determine exactly what the groups need to do to meet the building code’s demands.

The planning commission expects to send a letter out next week explaining what the organizations must do to stay in compliance with the building code.

The committee was told that the doors must have latches and be able to keep from burning up in 20 minutes, said Bryant Rudolph, a University District Review Committee board member and campus minister for the Baptist Student Union.

Libby Wilkins, a representative for the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority, said they have been in their house since 1986. She said new doors have never been required.

Wilkins questioned whether the replacement would be necessary since the sorority is considering moving into the proposed Greek Village.

Charley Pride, coordinator for student activities, could not be reached for comment.

Organizations who are not in compliance with the building code have 30 days to meet the requirements.

Four other groups still need letters of approval from either the building inspector or fire marshal because of other violations. Those include improperly working exit signs, fire extinguishers or smoke detectors.

Steve Hunter, planning manager with the city-county commission that oversees the district, said the commission will meet with city fire and building inspectors tomorrow. They will determine what the organizations will need to do about the doors.

Rudolph said the BSU’s doors already meet the city’s building code standard.

He said that he believed that many of the houses in question were built before the code requiring fire-resistant doors was implemented.

Despite the confusion, Rudolph said this year’s meeting wasn’t as bad as in recent years.

“Normally, we have a fraternity or sorority that’s in trouble,” he said.

The Chi Omega sorority was not represented at Tuesday’s meeting, and the group still lacked a letter from the building inspector showing its house met the building code.

The review committee passed a resolution allowing the Chi Os recertification, provided the building inspector’s codes are met. The group must also must explain in writing why they weren’t represented at the meeting.

The committee will meet again on Dec. 9 if any of the groups still don’t meet the recertification requirements.

Reach Josh Coffman at [email protected]