- Twice in the past year, groups of frustrated
homeowners have blasted the Georgetown city council and the
building inspector's office it oversees.
Council members have listened to
angry homeowners give speeches about their houses' passing
inspections despite code violations, bad heating and cooling
systems, certificates of occupancy never issued, or excess
dirt and debris from nearby construction sites.
The homeowners say building
inspectors signed off on their houses when they should have
caught problems and cracked down on the builders.
The building inspector, in the
job only a few months, defends the work done by his staff and
past inspectors, but he says they need help to keep pace with
the houses sprouting around them.
Many say it's the latest
symptom of exploding housing growth in Scott County that began
a decade ago and continues today as people move to the area
from Lexington and other cities.
At tonight's 6 o'clock city
council meeting, officials will discuss how to ease the
Council members will consider
an ordinance that would deny builders new permits if they are
violating the regulations on another site. Current law grants
a new building permit as long as the fee is paid.
A new assistant building
inspector will start in the office next week. If that doesn't
help, Georgetown Mayor Everette Varney said, he is prepared to
propose hiring more inspectors to keep up with the growing
"The only thing I'm concerned
with is quality," Varney said. "If they're rushing and they
miss something, we're going to have to address it later on,
and I don't want to address it later on."
'Ease-by' climate alleged
Some homeowners say they are
being left to address problems that should have been caught.
"It just starts with the
builder who wants to ease by, and then it's the inspector who
lets them ease by," said Ainslie Vice, who was part of a group
that complained to the Georgetown council last fall.
She and her husband, Charlie
Vice, own a house west of Georgetown near Stamping Ground.
They have never lived in it because of code violations and
problems, including an improperly installed wood stove and
mold growing on the living room walls, which they say make it
The Vices blame the builder,
who they say did not follow architectural plans. They are
still in litigation with the builder, Parker Inc., which
disputes the couple's claims and is asking to be paid for
remedial work done in an attempt to satisfy the Vices.
Ainslie Vice thinks building
inspection was lax in Scott County for many years, leading to
a climate in which some builders took advantage of the
situation and faced no consequences. She said the current
inspector, Dennis Morris, and his staff are doing their best
to turn things around.
Builders "need to be held to
standards, but they've gotten away with so much for so long,"
Morris, who replaced Lyndon
Howard, who resigned in November after homeowners' complaints,
defends his staff. He says, however, that there just aren't
enough inspectors to handle the mounting demand.
This year through Sept. 19, he
and his two-person staff had made 3,207 inspections. On
average, they inspect 30 to 40 buildings each day and often
take paperwork home.
"We should have had more staff
three or four years ago. It's even worse now," Morris said.
not slowing down'
Similar pressures are seen in
Georgetown's code enforcement office. The number of citations
issued by the office's chief, Michael Johnson, has increased
120 percent over the past two years. He attributes the
increase to more people, more houses and more people being
aware of the office.
The pressure might keep
building. Kelly Klepper, the Georgetown-Scott County planning
director, said he is anticipating a 10 to 15 percent increase
in applications for construction projects.
"It's not slowing down," he
In other counties that have
seen growth, such as Madison and Jessamine, the largest cities
have inspection departments separate from the county.
In Nicholasville, a building
and zoning supervisor oversees two building inspectors and a
zoning enforcement officer. The Jessamine-Wilmore Planning
Commission has its own residential building inspector and a
part-time inspector for commercial buildings.
Madison County has the
equivalent of 11/2 people inspecting buildings. In the city of
Richmond, a supervisor oversees two building inspectors. The
supervisor, Richard Boneta, said he can also do inspections.
Boneta said Richmond has
annexed enough land since 1990 to triple its area. He wonders
whether the demand for inspections will hit his office if that
farmland is developed.
"It isn't a problem yet," he
said, "but it may become one."
Builder at the storm's eye
In Georgetown, the latest
outcry from homeowners came this month. Many of their
complaints were directed at the builder of their homes, Brian
Koressel, who they claim cut corners during construction.
They are also upset that the
building inspector's office signed off on their homes without
"They're not getting cited.
They're not getting shut down," said Steve Ward, a homeowner
in the Mansion Estates subdivision.
Six months after moving in, he
says his heating and cooling system has yet to function
properly. He also complained to the council about excessive
debris and improper fencing to safeguard against silt running
into the sewer system.
Another homeowner, Robert
Burke, had similar complaints. He said improper wiring led to
a chilly house and high electric bills most of the winter. He
claims he also found a flattened cardboard box taped to the
Koressel, the builder, said
the accusations are ludicrous. He said everything in Burke's
house passed code. He also said Ward installed his own
thermostat and messed up the wiring. (Ward said it was
installed by a contractor working for Koressel.)
"It's just a bum rap,"
He also said any complaints
about construction debris and dirty streets have been
Koressel added that the group
of people complaining is very small and that many others in
the Mansion Estates are happy with their homes.
He also said both Ward and
Burke are behind on their mortgage payments. Because of that,
he repossessed Burke's vehicle and has been in court with
Ward said he and his wife were
not paying because they were in litigation with Koressel over
a land contract. Burke said the repossession of his vehicle
has nothing to do with neighbors' speaking out now.
"We're not targeting him
specifically," Burke said. "I just don't want anyone caught in
the situation our neighborhood has."