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Death at construction site

January 23rd, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

There’s a very sad story about the death of a worker in New York City at a development owned by someone who keeps getting sued by the city and yet no one seems able to prevent him building shoddy structures. One quote that caught my eye was:

Spokesman Tony Sclafani said the department has no authority to deny or revoke permits based on previous safety violations or unpaid fines.

It got me wondering about whether there are jurisdictions that do have laws that deny building permits to builders who have unpaid fines or previous safety violations.  I’d love to hear from someone who has such an ordinance so I can share it with the readers of this blog.  I realize that builders will just incorporate under different entities to avoid such a penalty but even that could be addressed in an ordinance (e.g. based on someone’s percentage of ownership).

  1. Tom Sawtelle
    February 10th, 2011 at 08:14 | #1

    You can’t deny a builder a permit just because of past construction practices, or unpaid fines. However, there are all kinds of remedies available from stop work orders to injunctions or revocation of a permit. A better approach might be to revoke his / her license. Then they won’t be able to apply for a permit or work on the job.

  2. Linda Pieczynski
    February 10th, 2011 at 10:19 | #2

    This is a great idea in states where the builder is licensed. Unfortunately not all states or local jurisdictions have such a requirement. Thanks for posting.

  3. May 3rd, 2011 at 11:31 | #3

    Hi Linda! I just recently heard you speak on 4/27/11 in Peoria, IL. It was very informative an wonderful listening to you speak. Thanks! It was the first seminar I have ever attended since I started working for the County as the Zoning Enforcement officer.

    In our office if someone has a violation and would like to apply for a permit to construct, we will take the permit and put it on hold until the violation has been cleaned up. Applicants can’t perform any work on new construction until we have inspected the property and can see for ourselves that the property in question is in compliance with our Zoning Ordinace. Ofcourse every situation is different, but this does seem to work for us in most cases.

    • Linda Pieczynski
      May 6th, 2011 at 10:39 | #4

      While I like this idea, permits have to be issued if the person or entity meets the requirements for applying for a permit. I would hope your ordinance allows you to withhold a permit if there are violations on the property. Otherwise, you could end up on the wrong side of a mandamus action.

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