BOD Letter to Members regarding construction at 13 and 17 McKay Circle

posted Nov 27, 2013, 10:20 AM by Neele Johnston   [ updated Nov 27, 2013, 11:08 AM ]

Changes in Montgomery County New Home Construction Rules and Impacts on Projects at 13 and 17 McKay Circle


Background

The are two new house projects at 13 and 17 McKay Circle that have generated 13 complaints at the Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services (DPS) and CJG members have sent multiple inquiries and demands for action to the CJG Board.  The concerns are somewhat summarized below:

  1. Are the projects at 13 and 17 McKay Circle considered new homes or alterations to existing homes?
  2. Do these projects require a DPS demolition permit?
  3. Is the contractor, Hadi Akhavannik, properly licensed for these projects?
  4. Was Montgomery County waste disposal guidance properly used to dispose of the asbestos containing siding at 13 McKay Circle?

Findings

After many attempts to reach DPS staff via phone calls and e-mail, the CJG President had two phone calls and several e-mails with George Muste (DPS Residential Review Manager) who had been designated by Hadi Mansouri (DPS Division Chief – Building Construction) to investigate the complaints at 13 and 17 McKay Circle.

This information is a summary of telephone conversations and includes data from the e-mails from George Muste.

  1. The requirement (which was a DPS rule) to retain some existing walls for a project to be considered a renovation does not exist anymore.   This DPS rule was not supported by Montgomery County Code (Section 8-27 and attached at the end of this document).  The DPS interpretation of Section 8-27 is that the project is considered an alteration if part of the original slab/foundation is retained.  Mr. Muste stated that DPS does not make legislation and that it can only interpret the legislation that the County Council creates and that more stringent guidelines for renovations and alterations would require county residents to pursue such changes with the County Council. 
  2. DPS considers the projects at 13 and 17 McKay Circle to be renovations/alterations due to the DPS interpretation of section 8-27.
  3. Demolition permits are not required since the 13 and 17 McKay Circle projects are considered alterations/renovations.
  4. With 13 and 17 McKay Circle being considered as alterations/renovation, Hadi Akhavannik Home Improvement license (#107148) is sufficient for the projects.
  5. The 13 and 17 McKay Circle projects are not required to have sediment control permits though a surface water plan has been submitted (at least for 13 McKay).
  6. Hadi Akhavannik consulted with DPS before the receipt of the construction permits and the projects are in compliance with the permits that DPS issued.  This compliance has been verified with site visits by DPS personnel. 
  7. Despite conflicting information in response to the complaints (see SR 199997075), Mr. Muste stated that the there was never a formal stop work order at either 13 or 17 McKay Circle.

Additional Findings

  1. 13 McKay was deconstructed by hand and the asbestos containing siding was placed in plastic bags and removed via the dumpsters.  This appears to be somewhat in accordance with the procedures specified by Montgomery County waste disposal guidance (http://www6.montgomerycountymd.gov/apps/dep/solidwaste/collectionservices/material_detail.asp?categoryID=59).
  2. Hadi Akhavannik’s has had 15 complaints against his construction permit which speaks to the confusion related to DPS permitting rules.  Additionally, there have been possible membership agreement violations related to entering the Akhavannik’s reserved use boundary at 13 McKay.  The Akhavannik’s have conveyed to the Board their concerns related to this scrutiny and that it is distressing.  
  3. Members have mischaracterized to the Board and to the County that Hadi Akavannik was excavating a basement when this was not the case.

Conclusions

  1. The CJG Board has investigated the concerns related to the redevelopment at 13 and 17 McKay Circle and finds that the projects have been performed in accordance with the DPS permits that have been issued for these projects.
  2. Paragraph 14 of the Membership agreement affords all CJG members certain protections.

"The member agrees that he/she will not do or suffer anything to be done or kept in or upon the premises covered by this agreement which will increase the rate of fire insurance on the Housing Project, or do or suffer to be done any act or thing which shall or may be a nuisance, annoyance, inconvenience, or damage to the Corporation, its members, or tenants, or to the occupants of adjoining dwellings."


Paragraph 14 requires that all members, tenants and visitors adhere to the guidance that it provides so that everyone in the Community feels safe and fairly treated.


All development projects create some level of stress due to the construction activities.  As a community we need to appreciate that it is impossible to upgrade the housing stock without some disturbance.  This does not obviate the protections against unreasonable disturbances that are afforded in our governing documents along with state and local regulations.


Supporting Information


Below is the e-mail thread with Mr.  Muste of DPS.  

As we discussed, a demolition permit required for the removal of the entire building. The demolition operations did not create a vacant lot on which a new house can be permitted. The new buildings are permitted as alterations/additions.

 

pastedGraphic.pdf

From: Muste, George 
Sent: Friday, November 22, 2013 5:24 PM
To: 'Mark Smith'
Subject: RE: Regarding demolitions

pastedGraphic_1.pdf

 

Yes, this was our interpretation.

 


We have started working with our county attorney on the requirements for demolition permits.

 

 

pastedGraphic_2.pdf

From:  [mailto: On Behalf Of Mark Smith
Sent: Friday, November 22, 2013 4:06 PM
To: Muste, George; Jami Rankin; CJG Board
Subject: Re: Regarding demolitions

 

Mr. Muste,

 

Thanks for the response.  I am cc'ing the rest of the Board so that they can benefit from the dialog.

 

What is confusing for me, and for several residents in the Community, is this definition.

"demolish means to tear down or destroy an entire building"

 

At 13 Mckay the entire building was removed, all that was left was part of the slab.   Is it your understanding that the slab is part of the structure and since part of the slab is being retained that this is not a demolition?

 

I think if we can get clarity why DPS believes this is not a demolition I can convey this to the Community and the discord could settle down some.

 

Best Regards,

 

Mark Smith

301-325-3771 

 

On Fri, Nov 22, 2013 at 3:44 PM, Muste, George <George.Muste@montgomerycountymd.gov> wrote:

Demolition permit requirements are specified in section 8-27 of the Montgomery County Code. In this situation, our interpretation is that this section is not applicable.

 

pastedGraphic_3.pdfSec. 8-27. Demolition or removal of buildings.

(a) Notice. The Director must mail written notice, at least 10 days before the Director issues a permit to remove or demolish a building or structure, to the owner of each adjacent and confronting lot. The applicant must give the Department the name and address of the owner of each adjacent and confronting lot. The notice must identify the building or structure to be demolished or removed, specify the process for issuing the permit and the time limit to appeal the issuance of a permit to the Board of Appeals, and include any other information the Director finds useful. The Director need not deliver this notice if unsafe conditions require immediate demolition or removal of the building or structure.

(b) Signage. The Director need not deliver the notice required by subsection (a) if, at least 10 days before the Director issues a permit to remove or demolish a building or structure, the applicant posts at a conspicuous location on the lot a sign describing the proposed demolition or removal, specifying the process for issuing the permit and the time limit to appeal the issuance of a permit to the Board of Appeals, and including any other information the Director requires. The sign must conform to design, content, size, and location requirements set by regulation under Section 8-13(a).

(c) Special notice for older buildings. At least 30 days before the Director issues a permit to demolish or remove a building, other than a single-family dwelling, that will be more than 25 years old when it is demolished or removed, the Director must list the address of the property on a properly designated website or other widely available form of electronic notice.

(d) Notice to utilities. Before the Director may issue a demolition or removal permit, the applicant must notify each connected public utility and obtain a written release confirming that all service connections and appurtenant equipment, such as meters and regulators, have been safely disconnected and sealed.

(e) Permit requirement; conditions. A person must not demolish or remove a building or structure unless the Director has issued a permit to do so under this Section. Each demolition or removal permit must require the applicant to:

(1) before demolishing or removing a building or structure, exterminate any rodents or other pests in it;

(2) after demolition or removal, clear all construction and demolition debris;

(3) restore the established grade of the surrounding land, unless a sediment control permit is otherwise required; and

(4) at all times keep the site free from any unsafe condition.

(f) Bond or surety. Each applicant for a demolition or removal permit must file a performance bond, cash, certificate of guarantee, or surety with the Department, in an amount equal to the cost of demolition or removal, to assure the safe and expedient demolition or removal of the building or structure and clearing of the site. If the building or structure is not demolished or removed and the site is not cleared of all debris within the time specified in the permit, but not sooner than 60 days after the permit is issued, the Director may enter the property, demolish or remove the building or structure, clear the site of debris, and take action to forfeit the performance bond, enforce the guarantee, or otherwise reimburse the Department for its cost.

(g) Definitions. As used in this Section:

(1) remove means to move a building or structure substantially intact from or within a site; and

(2) demolish means to tear down or destroy an entire building or structure, or all of a building or structure except a single wall or facade. (1975 L.M.C., ch. 1, § 3; 2002 L.M.C., ch. 24, § 1.)

 

 

pastedGraphic_4.pdf

From:  [mailto:] On Behalf Of Mark Smith
Sent: Friday, November 22, 2013 1:46 PM
To: Muste, George
Subject: Regarding demolitions

 George,

 

I know that some of the residents believe the contractor is not following the regulations because their work seems to require a demolition permit per the PDF below.  Can we get some clarity on this?

 

Thanks,

 

Mark Smith

President Cabin John Gardens

301-325-3771

 http://permittingservices.montgomerycountymd.gov/DPS/pdf/InformationAboutDemolitionInYourResidentialNeighborhood.pdf

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