Concerned over building inspections, construction trades pack Marco Island City Council meeting

City Attorney Burt Saunders responds to criticism of his handling of lawsuits against the city. Building trades workers and company owners packed the city council chambers Monday afternoon, concerned about the future of the city's building department. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

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City Attorney Burt Saunders responds to criticism of his handling of lawsuits against the city. Building trades workers and company owners packed the city council chambers Monday afternoon, concerned about the future of the city's building department. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

The standing-room-only crowd stands for the invocation by the Rev. Thomas McCulley. Building trades workers and company owners packed the city council chambers Monday afternoon, concerned about the future of the city's building department. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

The standing-room-only crowd stands for the invocation by the Rev. Thomas McCulley. Building trades workers and company owners packed the city council chambers Monday afternoon, concerned about the future of the city's building department. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Councilor Larry Sacher details his criticisms of city staff. Building trades workers and company owners packed the city council chambers Monday afternoon, concerned about the future of the city's building department. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Councilor Larry Sacher details his criticisms of city staff. Building trades workers and company owners packed the city council chambers Monday afternoon, concerned about the future of the city's building department. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Councilor Larry Sacher details his criticisms of city staff. Building trades workers and company owners packed the city council chambers Monday afternoon, concerned about the future of the city's building department. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Councilor Larry Sacher details his criticisms of city staff. Building trades workers and company owners packed the city council chambers Monday afternoon, concerned about the future of the city's building department. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

City Attorney Burt Saunders responds to criticism of his handling of lawsuits against the city. Building trades workers and company owners packed the city council chambers Monday afternoon, concerned about the future of the city's building department. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

City Attorney Burt Saunders responds to criticism of his handling of lawsuits against the city. Building trades workers and company owners packed the city council chambers Monday afternoon, concerned about the future of the city's building department. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Homeowner Regina Dayton, who sued the city with her husband, reads a statement explaining their position. Building trades workers and company owners packed the city council chambers Monday afternoon, concerned about the future of the city's building department. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Homeowner Regina Dayton, who sued the city with her husband, reads a statement explaining their position. Building trades workers and company owners packed the city council chambers Monday afternoon, concerned about the future of the city's building department. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Homeowner Tim Dayton, who sued the city with his wife, reads a statement explaining their position. Building trades workers and company owners packed the city council chambers Monday afternoon, concerned about the future of the city's building department. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Homeowner Tim Dayton, who sued the city with his wife, reads a statement explaining their position. Building trades workers and company owners packed the city council chambers Monday afternoon, concerned about the future of the city's building department. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

— Monday afternoon, the Marco Island City Council chambers were packed with a standing-room-only crowd as the meeting began, largely made up of people who generally do not attend council meetings. The audience was heavy on bluejeans, deep tans and company logo-emblazoned work shirts, as the room filled with workers and owners in the building trades, concerned about the future of the city’s building department and its inspections.

The furor stemmed from personnel changes in the department following a lawsuit against the city, and punitive action by the State of Florida Dept. of Business and Professional Regulation. Chief Building Official Bob Mahar and electrical inspector Bruce Yakola were no longer with the city, announced City Manager Jim Riviere, Mahar by retirement and Yakola by resignation, after the two were found guilty of violations and fined by the state. Marco homeowners Tim and Regina Dayton sued the city after problems in the construction of their house, prompting the investigation by the DBPR.

Councilor Larry Sacher opened the meeting by reading an extensive statement, taking to task both the city manager and City Attorney Burt Saunders for their actions. Noting that his “criticism of the manager has been pretty consistent,” he said, “I have to take our city manager to task for poor communication skills” in not keeping council members informed on the issue, or responding to emails from Sacher.

“I’m still waiting to hear from the city manager why Mahar and Yakola were forced out. Is this transparency Marco style?” He urged that Riviere, who has announced his intention to retire effective at the start of the city’s fiscal year on October 1, step down immediately, to be replaced on an interim basis by Finance Director Gill Polanco. Sacher claimed the city attorney had been “wrong every step of the way.”

“This was a very quiet island today,” Sacher continued. “Why? You couldn’t get building permits, you couldn’t get inspections. It needs to change and frankly, I hold the city manager responsible.” At this point, cheers and applause came from the audience.

Riviere and Saunders were given an opportunity to address Sacher’s criticisms by Council Chairman Joe Batte.

“I have prided myself on making sure City Council is informed” on pertinent matters, said Saunders, a former Florida state senator, state representative, and Collier County commissioner. “A lot of things happen on a day to day basis. I didn’t feel the need to call you” after he attended a meeting in Orlando with the DBPR, attempting to reach settlements for the professional violations, adding that he would be more sensitive to council members’ desires to be kept abreast of issues.

The Daytons, said Saunders, had sued the city for $475,000, had the suit dismissed, and then “demanded $100,000,” a situation of which the City Council was fully aware. The City of Marco Island, he said, is required to defend any action against it. In response to Sacher’s questions, he stated the city had paid approximately $54,00 to defend the charges, split roughly evenly between his firm, Gray Robinson PA, and the city’s previous law firm.

Riviere took the council through the state’s findings against the building officials, including Mahar’s one count of knowingly making a false report, apparently concerning Yakola’s qualifications as an electrical inspector when he was hired. The building department had been “re-organized” last week, he said, with some inspections turned over to outside contractors, independent engineering firms. “I’m posting for a building official,” Riviere said. The city has no intention, he said, of turning over inspections to Collier County, which was a concern for many in the audience.

In response to a question from Batte, whether Marco was a “quiet island” due to lack of building inspections, or whether it was “business as usual,” Riviere answered things were a go and referred the question to Community Affairs Director Bryan Milk. Was that the case?

“One hundred percent, sir,” answered Milk.

In the public comment section of the meeting, Regina and Tim Dayton went to the podium to make statements.

“Had our petitions been heard, none of these actions would have been necessary,” said Regina Dayton. “We have been portrayed as litigious malcontents. Wrongdoing by city officials has never been acknowledged.”

“The city is intent on proceeding with both actions. The meter keeps running. The law entitles us to legal fees,” said Tim Dayton. “Please pay our legal fees.”

“It sounds like both sides are in agreement we don’t need to go further. The question is who’s going to pay for it,” said Sacher. He addressed audience members, and assured them the city’s building department would remain independent of Collier County.

Speaking outside the council chambers, the Daytons said they felt they were being portrayed in a false light.

“If the people of this community really understood, they’d have a much different opinion of us,” said Regina. “If we didn’t believe we were right, we wouldn’t have done what we did.”

“We had either incomplete or improper inspections. When the transcripts are heard, there will be very different assessments,” said Tim Dayton.

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Comments » 13

26yearsonmarco writes:

In the public comment section of the meeting, Regina and Tim Dayton went to the podium to make statements.
“Had our petitions been heard, none of these actions would have been necessary,” said Regina Dayton. “We have been portrayed as litigious malcontents. Wrongdoing by city officials has never been acknowledged.”
“The city is intent on proceeding with both actions. The meter keeps running. The law entitles us to legal fees,” said Tim Dayton. “Please pay our legal fees.”
“If the people of this community really understood, they’d have a much different opinion of us,” said Regina. “If we didn’t believe we were right, we wouldn’t have done what we did.”
“We had either incomplete or improper inspections. When the transcripts are heard, there will be very different assessments,” said Tim Dayton.

In order to “have a much different opinion” of the Dayton’s, I searched various Public Records.

This site shows the number of times a Notice of Commencement was issued, which indicates there must have been issues involved in the plans that were submitted by the Dayton’s, for their “Custom Built Home”, designed by an Architect, I assume they hired, and whose name never appears in any documents.

http://apps2.collierclerk.com/CorPubl...

I also have many questions, which I hope the Dayton’s can answer, as to why they received so many mortgages from SunTrust under these circumstances, especially in 2009, , and also why, if the Dayton’s in 12/2008, were claiming to be filing bankruptcy, and then in 2013, found the cash to pay off a $350K mortgage.

Next, I reviewed the lawsuit filed by Dayton filed in 2009:

http://media.marconews.com/media/stat...

According to the lawsuit, Dayton’s claim the home does not comply with the Building Codes, and in Paragraph’s 31 and 32 they claim the Hambro System, a major structural component, has inferior concrete. Based on this fact alone, the Dayton’s should not be occupying the home because of health, safety and welfare concerns, and the home should be “Red Tagged”, until this matter is resolved, or proven untrue. http://www.ncbarch.org/hswdef.pdf

I’m sure the Dayton’s have a complete explanation of all these publically recorded document’s, and can fully justify why they have made so many people’s lives so miserable since selling their beautiful 872 sq. ft. 2 bedroom, 1 bath home in Ohio, valued at $61K, and now living in this horrible home that is even too dangerous to live in.

http://www.ottawacountyauditor.org/Da...

Please, will someone call the proper authorities to have this home “Red Tagged” before the home collapses, and our neighbors get hurt

I wonder what impact all this information will have on them when they decide to sell???

GFonda writes:

Please try and improve the timelines of the Eagle reporting and publication. The Sun Times had an article at least 36 hours earlier,

OldMarcoMan writes:

"Councilor Larry Sacher details his criticisms of city staff. "
Um Larry your NOT just a simple Citizen any more, your a Councilman and thats YOUR CITY STAFF

ed34145 writes:

Anyone can sit around sniping at staff. Mr. Sacher needs to stop being a blowhard and work WITH other council members and the administration to set clear goals and expectations.

happy6 writes:

the daytons have caused problem after problem for the trades ever since arriving on the island..it's not just the inspectors...perhaps they should sue their shoddy builder.

26yearsonmarco writes:

In the case of a “Custom Home”, Builders build, and Inspectors inspect, to a set of signed and sealed plans drawn by a licensed Architect and Engineer, who is the person responsible for any, and all problems. For some unknown reason, this person, or persons, were never named in the lawsuit, and should have the necessary insurance to cover the damages claimed by the Dayton’s. It appears, from the number of times the Notice of Commencement was recorded between 2002 and 2005 (4 times), there must have been many issues with the plans.

If I were the Builder, I would never have become involved with this job from Day One, and proves why “Nice Guys Finish Last”, because I heard the Dayton’s never paid the last draw of somewhere near $200K.

INPURSUIT writes:

I think many of you are missing the point here; the city manager handled this situation badly and did not answer Sacher's questions on lack of communication. I am disappointed the the other council members are not as vocal on this problem of transparency.

26yearsonmarco writes:

in response to INPURSUIT:

I think many of you are missing the point here; the city manager handled this situation badly and did not answer Sacher's questions on lack of communication. I am disappointed the the other council members are not as vocal on this problem of transparency.

If you are referring to the lack of communication and transparency between the Council and the City Manager regarding the inspectors licensing, you are correct, and it should have been handled internally, and not at a public forum.

The individuals who were dismissed, served this Island since we became a City, and have always worked well with the contractors, and was the reason why so many were at the meeting to support them.

To grant one individual time at the podium to vent her frustrations, without knowing all the facts, was an insult to all people who have, and are, building homes here on Marco Island, under the oversight of the Building Department.

MrBreeze writes:

How is it time and time again when these City Employees do wrong they are allowed to "retire" How bout the other word that rhymes called "fire".

26years In a "custom home" which I have built many, the Archiect and Engineer draw plans that are reviewed by a plan reviewer. The building permit is issued to a licenesed Builder. The plans are to be followed and Inspections are to be sure the Plans are followed. Any change to the plans would need a revision turned in for plan Review. However, if the change is minor or the change is of better strength and quality many times that process is superseded in the field by the Builder and the Inspector. It happens everyday. Then when trouble arrizes between the Builder and the Homeowner they point out the change with no plan change. This is probally how the Archiect and Engineer were probally not at fault. It was the Builder who made the changes and the Inspector approved it and should not have. I contact the Archiect or Engineer and have him give a letter of change to the print so everone is covered. I want to no exposure to anyone and it is all above board.

It is a simple process and covers all concerned.

naples_rocket writes:

I don't quite understand what was the ultimate goal of Dayton's lawsuit. I'm sure it wasn't improperly filled applications for licenses by City inspectors 10+ years ago. Yes, that's wrong on their side, but please...
On the other hand, how much outsourcing of certain Building Department services will cost to the City? And shouldn't certain contracts be a) open for bidding and b)approved by the City council above certain amount.

MrBreeze writes:

I find it odd that a City Council meeting is "packed with building trades workers and company owners" over inspectors and the Building Department. I for one could care less if the internal makeup of a building department changes.

As a contractor, who cares as long as inspections are carried out. It is the people who worry that things could change for them in the limited work area of Marco Island. I would question why worry about the Building Department of the City of Marco Island.

26yearsonmarco writes:

MrBreeze,

“26years In a "custom home" which I have built many, the Archiect and Engineer draw plans that are reviewed by a plan reviewer.”

“Any change to the plans would need a revision turned in for plan Review.”

Based on your comments above, do you not find it strange that the NC was issued multiple times between 2003 and 2005?? which I assume indicates multiple plan changes due to problems with them??

If you were the Builder, at what point would have quit working for these people between 2002 and 2006???

MrBreeze writes:

26years I have worked for many people who when building a custom can become challenging but I have never walked away from a job. The process has to be followed to communicate with the Archiect/Engineer. This however does not relieve the Building Inspector from his/her duties which is simply to check the work to code.

I believe these folks had problems with all components of the build and found issues. Trouble is the home that was built is probally substandard in quality.

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