2012-05-10 / Views

Letter to Editor

Dear Editor,

In reference to the recent “Stop Work” order on the new SMH Replacement Facility:

There had been no indication nor attempt to even acquire/apply for a building permit in the first place. Well over six months have passed since this project began and there has been no interest or inquiry by anyone affiliated with the project to even find out the cost of the fees involved.

I’m pretty certain that it’s safe to say that in order for the USDA or any other financial institute to provide $19 million of borrowed money to a borrower they must have had a line item for “Permits” in general along with many other projected costs. That question should have been asked long before this project even became a reality.

Mr. Root and Mr. Montgomery both made it very clear to me that they have been “involved in” and “overseen” millions of dollars of construction projects during their careers, but yet it appears that they didn’t know the proper proceedings to carry-on this construction process. Number one; as clearly stated in the Michigan Building Code as well as the State Construction Code Act - You must first apply for and obtain a Building Permit by submitting the required paperwork and fees as set forth by the governing agency. The question was asked to me, “Why now? Why didn’t you shut us down in the beginning?” Maybe I should have … in reality, who would have thought that a new facility of this reputable nature with cost of over twenty million dollars would have tried so hard to dodge a permit fee that solely contributes the surrounding economy?

Now, in some eyes I may have been wrong in allowing the continuance of the foundation and steel work of the project and that is fine. The obvious reasoning that the project proceeded was because and only because I spent endless hours at the project and worked directly with one of the best firms I’ve ever dealt with in my construction career and they proved this daily. Everything went together as proposed and designed. Gilbane Company, the General Contractor and I have been in direct contact very frequently throughout the entire project and they were well aware of this construction continuing without the proper permits being acquired. I verbally reminded them of this very frequently (sometimes once or twice a week). I’m quite sure that Gilbane reiterated my concerns to the hospital’s rep.

I requested that the State Plan Review Division in Lansing assist me with the plan review or else I still would be reviewing these plans for compliance and the project would still be on hold due to me being tied up with the review and not able to be on site for inspections.

If there would have been any attempt to obtain a building permit by SMH this would have been resolved long before it came to this. The scale used to determine the cost of construction permits was approved many years ago and in August of 2010 a penalty fee was added to the scale due to the lack of compliance with this particular matter. Many other municipalities also implement a penalty for work beginning without acquiring a permit first and that is exactly what the County Board of Commissioners adopted in the fee schedule resolution in 2010.

Please let it be known that there are no State or Federal Building Officials involved in this project other than myself. There are fire inspectors, mechanical inspectors, plumbing inspectors, as well as electrical and health inspectors (just to name a few) involved on a totally different level than myself. I carry out inspections throughout the entire project (from foundation to final occupancy).

It is rather clear that after six months of dodging the Building Permit Application and Fees, the CEO and Trustee/ Spokesman were trying to slip one by the Building Department’s Authority. In a conversation earlier last week with Mr. Root, he indicated that “the County should forgive the entire building permit fee” and I believe that this has been the intention all along. That is indeed why there never was one applied for although I stressed weekly to Gilbane Company that “this needs to get taken care of.”

P.S. It darn near killed me to send all of those hard working people (that have families to support) home on Tuesday when I delivered the “Stop Work” order. I hope they will accept my apology and there will be no hard feelings in the future. It was probably one of the worst things I had to do during my career, but I had no choice. I’m sorry.

Sincerely,

Jake Rivard, Building

Official, Schoolcraft County

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