Change to Iowa Elevator Code driven by Muscatine case

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlberthttps://discovermuscatine.com
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–After retiring in 2018, Marc Wallace and his wife decided to settle in Muscatine. The couple fell in love with 126 West Second Street in the heart of downtown, and purchased the whole building. They planned to use the first floor as a studio to sell their landscape photography and the two upper floors as their personal residence.

A veteran with disabilities, Wallace wished to install a residential elevator in their building. He contacted an elevator company before buying the building, and they confirmed they could do the job. After the Wallaces purchased the property, the elevator company came out, drew up plans, and contacted the Iowa Elevator Board for a permit.

Initially, the Elevator Board denied the contractor a permit. Later, the Board found they made a mistake and encouraged the contractor to reapply. Despite their assurances of speedy approval, the Elevator Board rejected the application again, claiming that the building required a more expensive commercial elevator.

Over the next several months, the contractor and an inspector from the City of Muscatine continued to make the case for installing a residential elevator before the Elevator Board. None of the deed restrictions (which only allowed the building’s owners to use the upper floors as their residence) or design changes that would prevent unauthorized access they presented, changed the Board’s ruling.

In spring of 2019, Muscatine Representative Gary Carlson and Senator Mark Lofgren heard about the case and met with Wallace. At the next appeal, the legislators attended. After seeing the Board reject the attorney general’s suggestion that they accept the application if the deed restriction became permanent and state they would not accept any new applications for the project, they decided to pursue a change to the Iowa Elevator Code.

This legislation became Iowa Senate File 2195, which allows a person to install a residential elevator in a historic building three stories or shorter if the owner has a commercial business on the first floor, their residence on the upper floor or floors, and secures the elevator against unauthorized entry. The bill passed both the house and senate unanimously.

Wallace looks forward to finally having a residential elevator installed this year and appreciates Carlson and Lofgren, “trying to create a more level playing field.” Governor Kim Reynolds signed the bill June 17.

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