Bill Pending in OH Senate Would Enable Limited Home Rule Townships to Adopt Building Codes

March 13, 2017

By Connie S. Carr

On February 9, 2017, Ohio Senator Bacon introduced Senate Bill 43 to remove an exception under current law that prohibits a limited home rule township from adopting building or other codes if the the county where it’s located has adopted a code on the same subject.

In Ohio, townships are permitted to adopt a limited home rule form of government and as such may adopt building codes and other standards such as plumbing, electrical or fire codes, to name a couple. However, if the county where a limited home rule township is located has also adopted such codes, then the township cannot adopt its own code on that subject mater. Even when the township adopts its own code first, if the county adopts a similar code later, then the township code on that subject is preempted and no longer in force.

S.B. 43 was referred to committee (Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs) on February 15th.  If the bill ultimately becomes law, it would change the priority regarding whose code would apply. It would amend current law to allow the limited rule townships to pass their own building codes regardless of whether the county has passed a building code or passes such codes in the future. In either case, the two sets of building codes would coexist and if there was a conflict, the township code would prevail within the township’s borders.

It’s too early to know how this bill will proceed in committee. If it becomes law, contractors will need to be aware that different codes may apply to construction projects within limited home rule townships.