Whether it is commercial buildings constructed over property lines, average citizens getting the run around or building department employees being used to harass the Mayor’s Critics the problems with having unqualified mayoral cronies instead of professionals in Building and Code enforcement are pretty well documented. Last month with the Council considering privatizing the building Department, the Mayor mustered the support of some favored contractors to speak in favor of the status quo as well as give his council ally Bobby Compretta some cover to make a fool of himself:
Otis Bounds said he agreed with Carrigee, but said the city needs to “upgrade our building department and put some knowledgeable people in there.” Bounds referenced Carrigee’s tenure in the building department and said even though he didn’t always agree with Carrigee’s answers, Bounds said he knew Carrigee was “always right.”
“If I get an answer now, you better go look it up because it’s probably wrong,” he said. “Either upgrade the building department or keep the bunch you got off the beach.”
Ron Thorp said he was at the meeting where the city of Waveland voted to privatize its building department.
Thorp said the aldermen were pleased with the privatization of the building department because they said it eliminated the phone calls, took the pressure off of them and took the politics out of the building department.
“It saved the city a lot of money,” Thorp said. “If you heard all the people that came up here, the one thing they said is,’if you’re going to privatize it, have someone that is good.’ So we can save money, have it privatized and have a good person in there.”
Councilman Bobby Compretta said, from what he’s heard, he doesn’t think the council needs to fix anything that’s not broken.
That workshop had a little something for everyone including Councilman Seal again showing his zeal to raise everyone’s taxes but it was Compretta’s attempt to spin the dysfunction in the building department that was most pathetic IMHO as he is a realtor and should know better than most.
Building codes protect the public and level the playing field for contractors. The real estate marketplace differentiates between quality and substandard construction in pricing. For instance there is an established subdivision off Old Spanish Trail full of nicely done ranch style houses built on spacious lots that was largely constructed by two general contractors, whose names I will not mention but one of whom spoke out in favor of the status quo at that Council workshop.
One of the Generals took pride in the quality of their workmanship while one did not. I mention this because I’ve seen MLS listings on that subdivision where the price per square foot was as much as $30 different depending on the original contractor for the house, which look identical on the outside. It is an open secret in Bay St Louis realty circles. Building codes coupled with code enforcement prevent corner cutting and insure a basic level of quality of construction.
I mention this because local architect Kevin Fitzpatrick stopped in and commented on last week’s post on Triple Tails and now Dan Bs being built over their property lines and it raises some disturbing implications:
Your statement at the beginning of this post, that I appeared before City Council requesting permission for Tripletails to cantilever decks over state property, is untrue. At that meeting, the Owner was only asking permission to build over City-owned property on the north side of the building. Decks were drawn projecting over state property to the east in case the Owner was successful in negotiating that right.
This project has been very problematic for my reputation. The Owner cut me out of the loop after receiving a provisional foundation-only permit based on my INCOMPLETE construction documents. The building dept allowed the Owner to “complete” the building without any further documentation or engineering under my supervision. If any electrical, mechanical, structural, or architectural drawings were provided, they certainly weren’t produced by me. As a consequence, I have never set foot on the property and never will so please don’t attribute to me whatever code or ADA or engineering violations that may have been allowed and don’t credit me with the way it looks either.
Leave out the anomaly in the council minutes as it now appears Triple Tails is getting a free ride using both State land and City land and let’s focus on the continuing rumors that the balconies at Triple Tails are unsafe. To be clear Mr. Fitzpatrick qualified his statement on the lack of an engineering stamp on the design. However, when these rumors were addressed in the Seacoast Echo, Bay St Louis’ perpetually interim Chief Building Charles Oliver was silent on whether or not an engineer was used as well:
Oliver said both the building department and the mayor’s office had received several phone calls from citizens who are concerned the building’s second- and third-floor decks won’t hold up to a large crowd.
Oliver said that’s because people are only seeing the visible exterior supports for the decks. However, he said, they’re built with cantilevered construction that surpasses what the building code actually requires.
With cantilever construction, the support beams of an exterior structure must extend into the interior of the building.
In other words, Oliver said, “Whatever you have sticking out, you have to have sticking in. The code says you have to have 50 percent of the length of the exterior sticking in. Here, he’s got 70 percent sticking in. If that thing should ever fall, it would have to break off with the whole side of the building, and the chances of that are very low.
By law buildings three stories or greater must use a “design professional” and yet Bay St Louis’ Building Official is silent on that subject while the Architect that was employed by Triple Tails was dismissed before his design was completed. Those rumors on Triple Tails balconies continue to this day.
Given the Murphy family recently constructed Dan B’s over the state owned green space property line raises the question whether or not there was ever an approved site plan submitted or if code compliance is proceeding piece meal without one, Triple Tails style.
City Attorney Trent Favre mentioned two different sets of plans being submitted and even the Building Department’s defenders admit there is evidently no one currently employed by the City that can adequately read and interpret commercial plans, expertise that was eliminated by the Mayor when he elevated his friend Oliver to the Chief Building Official’s position. The evidence of massive problems stemming from ineptitude and ignorance is undeniable and Councilman Compretta thinks that nothing is broken in A Place Apart. It is a good example why he needs to be replaced by a someone that is more conscientious. Luckily next year voters in Ward 4 will get the opportunity to do exactly that.
In part three Slabbed hopes to have some commentary from the Secretary of State’s office – either that or I will reveal the questions they are seemingly unable to answer. Stay tuned.