Read the original article by Pete Goonan here.
SPRINGFIELD -- City councilors sharply criticized a New York-based developer Wednesday after city inspectors halted work for the second time on the SilverBrick Square housing project for alleged plumbing violations.
Council President Orlando Ramos said he believes that after two stop orders on the project in the past month, it is time to begin revocation of local tax incentives previously granted by the council to the developer, SilverBrick Group LLC.
"I have contacted the Law Department to begin the process of immediate revocation of the existing tax break for Silverbrick LLC," Ramos said.
Councilors Jesse Lederman and Adam Gomez joined in criticizing the developer, with the comments following a statement by Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, who pledged a city investigation and "appropriate sanctions."
"This is total BS and it's unacceptable," Sarno said.
The Springfield Code Enforcement office halted a $6.2 million SilverBrick Square housing redevelopment project at 122 Chestnut St., after again citing the developer for alleged plumbing violations including some unlicensed workers and sealed work prior to inspections.
Ramos said it was made clear to SilverBrick officials at an October meeting that the alleged plumbing issues uncovered then, including use of unlicensed plumbers and alleged substandard materials, would not be tolerated. Ramos said it was made clear that if such an incident or similar incident was to occur again, that he personally would ask for immediate revocation of tax breaks.
"They've had plenty of warnings and it's time to revoke the tax break," Ramos said.
Aaron J. Papowitz, founder and managing principal for the SilverBrick Group, was contacted by The Republican, but did not provide comments on behalf of the company.
SilverBrick Square redevelopment in Springfield allowed to resume work with union plumbers
The apartment project has a tax incentive of up to $150,000 over 10 years.
In the latest stop order, Code Enforcement Commissioner Steven Desilets said the improper plumbing work included unlicensed workers and sealing off work without inspections. While the October order just halted plumbing work temporarily until a new plumber was hired, the latest order stopped all work because there was other work also sealed off without city inspections, he said.
Lederman and Gomez are calling for a committee hearing for councilors to be briefed about the latest code violations and for a full review of the tax incentive agreement with the city's Board of Assessors, economic development director and Law Department.
The property tax incentive will save SilverBrick Group a total of $150,000 over a 10-year period on the new development valuation, not the valuation of when purchased by SilverBrick last year.
"This appears to be continued flagrant disregard for our building code," Lederman said. ""Frankly, I am appalled that we need to call a second oversight meeting in less than one month related to this project. The administration should initiate a full review immediately."
Springfield officials stop plumbing work at downtown renovation, citing substandard materials, unlicensed workers
City inspectors found workers using substandard materials on bathroom and kitchen plumbing and sanding the colors off those materials to hide that fact.
Gomez said the developer had promised in October that issues would be fixed.
"This seems to be complete disregard to the seriousness of what officials asked this developer," Gomez said. "I stand firm that I can't trust their word or even believe they want to do good by the City of Springfield. This is strike two and this has to be the last straw."
Gomez, who is chairman of the Economic Development Committee, said a meeting will be scheduled to discuss the most recent violations as soon as possible.