Thursday, April 24, 2014

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Commission considers faulty Wood Ridge Apartments

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Frustration seemed to be the common theme at Monday’s Building and Standards Commission meeting.

Last month, 48 families were displaced when an elevated walkway at the Wood Ridge Apartment Complex collapsed. Inspectors found many of the walkways and buildings in the complex weren't up to code. At Monday’s meeting, the Building and Standards Commission discussed the future of the complex in front of a crowd mostly made up of displaced residents.

The apartment complex is facing dozens of code violations, and many of the displaced families didn't have the resources to find another place to live. The city is footing the bill to put some of them up in emergency housing.

"Everything is under lock and key. They put a pad lock on my deadbolt so I can't get any of my stuff out," Wood Ridge Resident Kanda King said.

During the meeting, the commission heard from Code Compliance who announced they were releasing the vacate order on the property but rattled of a long list of problems that needed to be addressed.

"This is beyond me. I don't think that you are seeing the severity of this,” Building and Standards Commissioner Charles Clotman said. "Thank God nobody died. Thank God, nobody was hurt, that's the good news. The bad news is you or your clients have caused the displacement of 40 to 50 families."

An attorney for the property management company answered questions from the commission.

The commission agreed to give crews 75 days to fix the problems. If they don't meet the deadline, they will be charged $1,000 per week per unit. They must also show written progress at subsequent commission meetings until the work is done. Failure to comply with the order the Buildings and Standards Commission is a criminal offense.

"We are getting them funds that would help them relocate, whether they wanted to permanently relocate or comeback to the property but we got them $500 each that would help them in the meantime," Asset Plus Management spokesperson Byron Plant said.

While officials say the building is no longer in imminent danger of collapsing, there is still a long road until all the problems are resolved.

The Building and Standards Commission has no power to settle landlord and tenant issues. They are in place to settle disputes between code compliance and the building owners.

City Manager Marc Ott has said the city will ask the apartment complex to reimburse the city for those expenses.

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