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  • Writer's pictureCorey Provencal

Cape won’t waive man’s permit fees for bad drywall

Cape Coral resident Ryan Tronchet won’t get $468 back from the city as part of its plan to help homeowners who replaced Chinese drywall by waiving their permit fees, the City Council decided Monday.

City officials agreed that he presented evidence that he owned the home and had a Chinese drywall problem. He said he had headaches and rashes that cleared up after the drywall was replaced in 2010.

But it was a concern that many others would apply for the refund and that Tronchet’s remediation was done before the city adopted the program that hurt his cause.

“My fear here is the floodgate that will open. There are many people out there who fit our criteria,” Councilman Marty McClain said. “This will not be the last one if we approve this.”

Tronchet was just the second resident to ask for the waiver since the council created the program in June.

The vote was a 4-4 decision with Councilmen McClain, Derrick Donnell, Erick Kuehn and Kevin McGrail voting against the motion to pay Tronchet.

“I just want to be treated equally,” Tronchet said. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for this resolution.”

The waiver program expires June 30, 2015, unless extended by council. Homeowners who qualify must have continuously owned the home and applied for the original building or construction permit anytime from 2003 to 2010.

Millions of sheets of Chinese drywall imported mainly between 2004 and 2008 emitted a foul smell and sulfur compounds that corroded air conditioning coils, electrical wiring, appliances, jewelry and other metal items in the home.

The drywall was found in thousands of homes in 41 states and Puerto Rico. In Lee County, at least 1,500 homes were affected.

Cape Coral issued 330 permits worth about $160,000 for Chinese drywall remediation, said city building official Paul Dixon.

Most of those permits were acquired by “foreclosure vultures and real estate flippers” who won’t qualify for the waiver, said Councilman Chris Chulakes-Leetz.

The money to cover the waivers has to come from the general fund, said Councilman Kevin McGrail. There has to be a starting point for the city’s programs, he said.

The $50,000 saved by the city when it changed its membership status in the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council could be used to pay Tronchet, said Chulakes-Leetz, who assisted Tronchet with his appeal for the money.

“It’s up to us to step up to the plate and take some of the responsibility that we should,”said Councilman Pete Brandt.

The city’s inspectors missed the problem and issued a certificate of occupancy, Brandt said.

John P. Lapotaire, CIEC •  Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant •  Microshield Environmental Services, LLC

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