A village council member is again on the hot seat for renovating his home without the necessary village approvals.
Commissioner Mike Curry acknowledged recently that he never applied for various building permits before remodeling an enclosed porch so that it could be used year round. The improvements included building a new roof on the rear portion of the home at 1510 Marengo, as well as new siding, windows and other upgrades.
The work also required that Curry get special permission for the project because the building does not comply with all of Forest Park’s zoning codes. An administrative hearing on the zoning matters is scheduled for April 20. During that proceeding, Curry will ask the director of the Department of Public Health and Safety, Mike Boyle, for an after-the-fact approval.
“I thought I’d done it. It’s my fault,” Curry said of not adhering to the permitting process. “I should have double, triple checked everything.”
Hanging in the windows of the house at 1510 Marengo are permits for interior renovations that covered work done to the kitchen and bathrooms. According to municipal records, those approvals were issued in early October.
Asked why he did not have permits for the rest of the project, Curry said he simply forgot. However, when the error was brought to his attention, the commissioner said he “immediately” applied for the missing permits and tried to correct his mistake.
Documents maintained by Boyle’s office on Curry’s renovation do not make clear when the violations may have been discovered. However, a March 19 memo initialed by Boyle indicates that someone else also requested copies of those records. The memo states clearly that “no permit application for this work was submitted.”
Commissioner Marty Tellalian said he made a formal request for the file on Curry’s house and presented his concerns to the full council during a closed-session meeting March 23.
“When I saw the info in the file, I told Commissioner Curry it appeared to me he didn’t have the permits and there looked like there would be a zoning issue,” Tellalian said.
According to Curry, he was made aware of the missing permits only a few weeks ago by members of the building department. It was at that time he was informed he would also need zoning relief because the house sits too close to the property line and exceeds lot coverage regulations, he said. At no earlier time, said Curry, was he told by Boyle or the building department that zoning regulations would need to be addressed before work could begin.
“No, not that I remember,” Curry said. “If he did, I don’t remember.”
Boyle said he does not have any documentation of such a conversation with the commissioner, but indicated he mentioned the need for zoning relief when Curry submitted his plans for the exterior renovation.
“I believe I may have made him aware of it,” Boyle said. “I believe it’s possible I made him aware of it when he first dropped off the plans for the second portion of the work to be done.”
All of the construction – except for the electrical work – was performed by Curry and several friends, he said. The renovations that are in violation were completed in November over the course of a mild weekend, said Curry.
The case of an elected official performing unapproved work on their home may sound familiar. Just weeks prior to Curry’s permitting boondoggle, Commissioner Mark Hosty was issued several after-the-fact permits for renovations to his home.
Curry is the commissioner of Public Health and Safety, a position he has held since 2007. Prior to the 2007 elections, Hosty served as commissioner of Public Health and Safety.
Mayor Anthony Calderone said he was recently made aware that Curry did not obtain the necessary approvals to do the work. He declined to comment.
“I’m not going to get involved in that in the papers,” Calderone said.
According to Boyle, Curry submitted two sets of plans to the village in October of 2008. The first drawings detailed the interior renovations and the necessary permits were issued. Several days later, said Boyle, the commissioner submitted new drawings that showed Curry intended to renovate an enclosed porch on the back of the home. That project included replacing a flat roof with a gabled roof. No permit applications were submitted, said Boyle, and he assumed Curry did not yet intend to start that portion of the project.
Boyle said he could not recall how his office discovered that the work was already done, but said that realization occurred only a few weeks ago.
“Along the way we became aware of the fact that this work was done, and it was like, well wait a minute,” Boyle said.
Boyle acknowledged that Curry’s building violations are similar to the violations discovered at Hosty’s home, and said his department deserves at least a portion of the blame for not catching the transgressions sooner. However, Boyle said these situations aren’t exactly unusual. Homeowners and contractors aren’t always aware of which building permits are needed, he said, and the two commissioners shouldn’t necessarily be expected to know more than the general public.
“They get a sense in their mind that they know all the rules,” Boyle said of council members. “We, even in the department, regularly – daily – go back to the code book.
“Mark’s been faulted for it in the past and I’m sure Mike will be faulted for it.”