Meiners: Illegal Utilities Work Could Mean Fires, Floods for Homes
Councilman says Municipal Utilities conducted illegal inspections.
Councilman Larry Meiners is saying Avon Lake Municipal Utilities broke the law and has exposed the city to serious legal exposure. Meiners told fellow council members at the March 12 council meeting he wanted the sump pump inspection program yanked as a result.
Meiners comments came after he learned 61 homes had been inspected for electrical and plumbing work by Avon Lake Municipal Utilities employees without having thee required permits pulled from the Building Department.
“These homes have been illegally inspected for electrical and plumbing work,” Meiners said. “The legal exposure we have on this is unbelievable. Utilities totally disregarded state law as well as the city’s law. They inspected 61 homes illegally. We have legal exposure by what they did.”
State law requires electricians and plumbers working on behalf of the city to be certified.
“You can’t go out and inspect property, residential or commercial, unless you’re state certified,” Meiners said. “We totally put 61 homeowners in harm’s way. The inspectors were non-certified and non-registered and it jeopardizes a fire or flood.”
The homeowners, mostly in wards 3 and 4, have been notified and Meiners said they would have to pay to have the sump pumps re-inspected.
“They should send the bill to (ALMU Chief Utilities Executive) Todd Danielson,” Meiners said.
ALMU implemented a sump pump inspection program to help residents determine if the pumps were discharging into the proper drains. The purpose of the program, Danielson said, was to help alleviate flooded basements.
ALMU chief says problem resolved
Danielson said there was an interdepartmental “miscommunication” and the problem has been resolved.
“When City Council acted to waive the building permit fees, it was misinterpreted within ALMU so that front line staff neglected to tell customers that they needed to apply for plumbing and/or electrical permits,” Danielson said.
He said no work was done inside houses and the only inspections performed were to assure that the combined sumps were separated.
“In other words, we assured the dirty water was going to the sanitary sewer and the clean water had been disconnected from the sanitary sewer in order to help prevent flooding of others' basements,” Danielson said. “It is an unfortunate event that we are glad has been rectified in order to best protect the residents of Avon Lake.”
Meiners called for the program to be revoked at the March 12 meeting but did not receive the support from council, none of whom opted to speak on the issue.
Danielson wants the program continued.
“I hope that does not happen,” he said. “We have resolved the problem. Forty homes have been addressed, and 57 more will soon be complete. That means approximately 160,000 gallons of rainwater has been prevented from entering the sanitary sewer during a 2-inch rain event. We need to assure basements don't flood, and this is making positive steps toward that end.”
Chief Building Inspector Tom Carleton, whose department is responsible for issuing permits would only said the city is “moving to working this out and getting everyone up to code.”
“We’re making sure every thing is done according to code,” Carleton said. “Safety is first in everyone’s mind.”