Nightmare on Elm St.

January 25, 2008
By

DAVID TABER

Based on weeks of complaints from neighbors about building and unpermitted Saturday work at a new home construction site at 1 Elm St., the city Inspectional Services Department (ISD) on Jan. 18 issued a stop-work order.

ISD spokesperson Lisa Timberlake said the developer, Andrew Mulligan, had met with ISD inspectors and the stop-work order would likely be lifted by the time the Gazette goes to print.

Sometimes in the case of unpermitted weekend work, developers are assessed “double fees” for their permit applications, Timberlake said, but she could not confirm if that would happen in this case.

In a Gazette interview prior to the issuance of the stop-work order, Mulligan denied work had been done on Saturdays and said he was taking steps to correct violations of the zoning code.

Workers were on the site on Saturdays Jan. 5 and Jan. 12, said Alyce Chen, who lives in the house next door to the construction site at the corner of Elm and Green streets.

Chen said she called the police at District E-13 on Jan. 5 and called 911 on Jan. 12 to report the Saturday work.

On Jan. 18 she went to the E-13 police station and filled out a report about the illegal work. The report was forwarded to ISD and provided grounds for the stop-work order, according to Colleen Keller, JP coordinator at the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services.

A representative from E-13 confirmed that an internal report was filed on Jan. 18 regarding 1 Elm St.

Previously, according to Keller, Mulligan had been issued an oral stop-work order because the frame of the new structure was too close to the abutting house at 3 Elm St., where Chen lives.

Timberlake characterized the correction of the placement of the wall as “the main objective, or one of the main objectives” of the written stop-work order.

“Work had to be stopped so the parties could come together” and ISD could make Mulligan aware of its concerns, Timberlake said.

Mulligan will have to file an amendment to his building permit certifying that the wall has been moved back before construction can begin again, Timberlake said.

When the Gazette contacted Mulligan prior to the issuance of the written stop-work order on Friday, he denied that an oral stop-work order had been issued.

Mulligan said he voluntarily met with ISD and voluntarily agreed to move the frame of the house back. “I was not told anything directly by ISD,” he said.

He also denied that any Saturday work had taken place. “This is ridiculous. We are not working on Saturday,” he said.

Mulligan said the Frame of his house was about a half-inch off of the required 10-foot setback from the existing house at 3 Elm Street.

Chen, who said she measured the distance herself by extending a tape measure across the property line, disputed Mulligan’s claim.

“It started off being 9 feet 4 inches or 9 feet 5 inches, depending on whether you take our measurements or the inspectors,” she said.

On Jan. 16, the wall frame was moved to 9 feet 10-and-a-half inches away, by her measurements, Chen said.

In an e-mail sent to ISD and city officials as well as community members, Chen said that in addition to a stop-work order and fines, “future construction done by Mr. Mulligan, particularly development on 99-103 Green Street, should be subject to review by members of the community, our elected officials and members of the ISD building division.”

Mulligan owns the large lot on the corner of Green and Elm streets, where he has already built one house and is expected to build a third at the 99-103 Green Street address.