City wanting to make sure renovations at former Stowell school are code compliant

Renovations at the former Stowell Elementary School will undoubtedly be taking place before the facility reopens next spring as the Korea Mission Bible College. The Hannibal Building Commission, which has been monitoring the building’s use for months, wants to ensure that when the work inside begins in earnest all necessary steps are being followed.
During Monday’s meeting of the Commission, Joey Burnham, building inspector, Bill Madore, fire chief, and Mark Rees, city engineer, were asked to make arrangements to do a walk-through of the building in the near future.
“What I’ll be looking for is the overall condition of the building. It’s been a while since we’ve been in there,” said Madore, who hopes to “work with the owner and occupant on anything we might find to make sure it meets the current code.”
Burnham’s objective will be to make sure “it’s not being used right now.”
“I’ll be looking to see if any work has been done that would require a permit,” he said.
From what Burnham has heard, the work that has taken place inside the former South Side school has been permissible.
“I have talked to workers who have been in there and they said they have not done anything as far as building anything. All they have done is clean up and move some furniture in. There is no one living there,” he said.
While the college is slated to begin offering classes next spring, Burnham has been told it’s “nowhere close to having anybody in there yet.”
The building is zoned for use as a church or school.
“One of the concerns that we have is if it’s used as a residential-type facility, obviously we’re changing occupancy there where there are certain modifications that potentially would have to be made to that facility in order to match the code with its occupancy use,” said Madore.
According to Madore, when firefighters perform a building inspection such as at the former Stowell school, they try to work as an advocate to the property owner in regard to making sure the site is code compliant.
“Quite honestly, if they can increase the fire rating in a certain portion of the building it may eliminate the potential for them to have a sprinkler system put in. That’s one area where we give them alternatives to where it actually helps them out cost-wise, yet still meets the code,” said the fire chief.