A resident of Woodside Village who has moved out of his apartment over concerns about mold and leakage is asking the city of Westwood to exercise its option to fine the development’s owner.
Steve Carlson told the Westwood City Council on Thursday that he believed city officials should use the city’s code, which allows it to fine a property owner up to $500 per violation of building guidelines that require windows to be in “sound condition and repair” and to “completely exclude rain and excessive dampness,” to incentivize correction of a litany of problems at the development.
“This problem has been going on for at least seven months, so I think the time for talking and debating is over and we should hand this matter over to court system without delay,” he told the city council. “This is no different than any other crime committed in our fair city: if I choose to go speed-racing down Belinder, I can expect to get a ticket and go before the prosecutor and judge within a couple of weeks.”
Westwood city staff say that while the city does technically have the right to fine a landowners for building code violations, it’s viewed as an act of last resort.
“We are still working to decide what approach we’re going to take,” said Fred Sherman, Westwood’s Chief Administrative Officer. “Technically, it is correct that we could fine the owner. But from a policy standpoint, that’s not really the intent of the code. The fines are generally something you use as leverage to get an issue corrected.”
Sherman said that if a property owner is unresponsive to requests to get building issues taken care of, the city administration could develop a court case, present it to a municipal judge, and then work through the court to attempt to get the issue fixed. A judge might give a property owner 60 days to fix and issue or face a fine, he said.
But Sherman indicated that the city had been in “constant communication” with developer Blair Tanner and his associates regarding the issues, and that Tanner had hired a new general contractor to address the quality issues that have plagued the building over the past several months.
“We know that he’s doing a number of things to correct these issues,” Sherman said.
The managers at Woodside Village North sent a notice to residents earlier this month informing them they had hired Neighbors Construction to perform corrective work to address water infiltration issues. Some residents will likely have to relocate during phases of the repairs. The company gave tenants the option of terminating their leases as a result of the construction.