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Friday, October 21, 2011

How We Got Where We Are

Here is the whole story, the timeline of the town's involvement and screw up and how it's come down on we, the people, to pay for it with homelessness. As my family says, "Shit rolls downhill.":

Irene Timeline
Immediately following the storm, BHA began clean up and working on housing options with its residents.

During the week after the storm BHA was told directly by Town Officials that it did not need any building permits and could and should begin clean up and repair immediately.

BHA moved swiftly to clean out apartments, enlist volunteers to help residents, have storage pods brought to the property and take numerous actions to get Melrose residents back into their apartments.

Town Officials visited Melrose at least twice a week for the first 2 weeks after the storm.

BHA had significant clean up finished and a contractor with initial estimates by the end of week 2. Given the numerous assurances of the Town with respect to repair and re-occupancy, BHA and its contractor John Brunelle, moved quickly to begin work.  BHA included $10,000/apartment of items in the repair which it never would have had it known about the permits and Substantial Damage issue.

On Thursday September 16th almost 3 weeks after the storm, BHA was told by the Planning Office it now needed permits. On Friday September 17th BHA was presented with a hastily prepared depreciated value appraisal of its property and forms to fill out for building permits. It was then that BHA was told about the NFIP rules and the Town’s method of determining Substantial Damage.  By this time the contractor had ordered all his materials as originally specified.

Because the FEMA rules suggest that market appraisal should be used over other forms (such as the one the Town had used) BHA hired a well respected local Appraiser to perform a complete Market Appraisal of its property.

BHA continued to work on the repair of all buildings because it was confident that the new appraisal would be higher.  And BHA’s commitment has always been the return of residents to their homes.

Throughout the month of September, Town and BHA officials discussed Melrose and the Town alluded to possibilities that they might in fact close up at least 4 of the buildings at Melrose.  BHA continued to work because its primary commitment has been to returning the residents to their homes.

A summary draft of the Market Appraisal was received during the week of October 3rd.  The repair of 4 buildings was still at issue. The Town said they would make no ruling until the formal Market Appraisal was received.  BHA voluntarily suspended work on these 4 buildings pending receipt of the formal document and more discussion with the Town.

On October 13th, BHA’s Contractor submitted new pricing which brought all work under the Substantial Damage threshold.

On October 14th, BHA informed the Town Planner that they would come in on Monday the 17 with their new costing and the formal Market Appraisal.

On October 14th the Zoning Administrator sent a letter with his finding of Substantial Damage for 5 buildings to BHA.

On October 17th prior to BHA presenting any information or applying for permits, it received the Findings and Order of the Zoning Administrator.  BHA attempted to discuss the matter with Town Officials but received no response until the 20th when the Assistant Town Manager informed BHA that the Town supported the Zoning Administrator and wanted to see the 4 buildings closed. There appeared to be little to no consideration for the 26 residents who were losing their homes.


Anonymous said...

So basically the town just wants to get rid of the buildings and put something more profitable there... but WHAT are the displaced people supposed to do? But wait...if the building is not going to be reopened does this mean you can live anywhere you want to now? Will you still get financial support to live anywhere you want? When are they going to tell the residents where they are going? So many questions so few answers.

Austan said...

Bingo, Lawless. It's a "you don't have to go home but you can't stay here" attitude. Except it is our home they won't let us return to, and there's no other place to go. It took 2+ years of waiting to get into The Shire. I'm not giving it up without a brawl.