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Prairie City News

Infrastructure code changes discussed by PC council

An update to Prairie City’s subdivision code would bring the standard in use from 1994 to current regulations. Andrew Inhelder, project engineer with MSA, discussed the process of changing the code to meet today’s standards and equipping it with the ability to move into the future with up to date specifications.

The current city code referenced for infrastructure building standards, the City of Prairie City Standard Specifications for Public Works 1994, has seen its time come and go, city administrator Joe Bartello said. To address the outdated standards, Bartello spoke with MSA, who suggested adopted the Iowa Statewide Urban Design and Specifications Plan (SUDAS) for the city.

“What most communities, from my understanding, are adopting is just the current version of SUDAS,” Bartello said. “MSA helped Baxter incorporation SUDAS into their code not to long ago we so have been discussing potential ways to implement it into our code:

While is initial idea was to just replace the city’s current code with SUDAS, Bartello said there can be areas that conflict with the standards for specific cities and reviewing and revising the code would be the best way to move forward for Prairie City.

“You have two options, either every year or every so often you need to go through the specifications of design and update it to the latest standards or, what I think is the better option is going with SUDAS, which is a conglomerate of contractors, city officials, manufacturers, engineers who put together these specifications and design methodology so you guys don’t have to update it every year,” Inhelder said. “It is continually updating, it is growing with the times and all of the methods that go along with it.”

The code will cover any time the city builds infrastructure or if a developer comes to town and puts in infrastructure the city will eventually take over. Areas it covers include the sanitary sewer system, design of the street, water mains, storm sewer along with the construction of it, which materials will be used, how thick the pavement is required to be, which rock is being used, pipe materials, etc.

“Right now that is dictated and referenced to the 1994 specs that the City of Prairie City has adopted,” Inhelder said. “A lot of stuff has changed since 1994 in building construction materials, methods, design requirements.”

For Baxter, Inhelder said they updated the city’s code to reference SUDAS but then added supplemental information specific to the city. He suggested Prairie City move forward with the same procedure.

“I would be looking at your existing code, revising it to fit SUDAS and then I would meet with city to go through the code and update with supplemental specifications wherever you guys want to vary from that code,” Inhelder said. “This route, you don’t need to update it every year, every two year. It would be automatically updated for you because SUDAS is growing.”

Area contractors and engineers, Inhelder said, heavily use SUDAS for design and build standards and are very familiar with what is expected of them for the project. He also said the city will receive the best prices available because the contractors know what is expected of them going into the work.

“They know what it entails versus if you have your own separate code, contractors and engineers aren’t familiar with it,” Inhelder said. “They are going to up prices purely based on the unfamiliarity.”

Councilman John Lee asked how the city will enforce the code once it is put into place. Bartello said the fee to have an engineering firm oversee the inspection process is generally incorporation into the development and covered by the developer on the project.

Lee also brought up the potential housing subdivision being planned for Prairie City’s south side and how any code change would effect it. Bartello said he has already reached out to the developer and was informed they were used SUDAS design standards for the project.

To move forward with the code change, a draft of the new code will be developed, sent to planning and zoning for review and then a public hearing along with readings for the code change will take place a subsequent council meetings.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or

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