September 20, 2010

Chris Coons, and fun with historic housing

This is...I wanna say this is shocking, but honestly, if you've lived in a Northeastern city with a lot of historic homes and buildings, you've seen this game before.  Southerners, you might have seen these kind of things play out too, but I could be wrong, sound off in comments if you do or don't. 

When Chris Coons was County Exec in Delware, he often butted heads with Alan Muller, who is a hard left activist, especially with environmental stuff.  Muller's that guy that's always at the local and county meetings, letting his opinion be heard on different issues and engaging elected officials.  So, probably a bit of a pain in the ass for local and county officials, but no way deserving of the abuse he (I believe legitimately) is complaining he received for riding the local yokel politicos asses about different things.

So what happened to Muller?  Well, Muller owns property with a historic home on it that was under threat of being condemned and demolished.  Muller's trying to get the house back in order, bought as a fixer upper.  Muller was charged with "making unpermitted repairs on his roof", and the county codes department fined him for all sorts of shit every month on a historical home he's trying to save from looking like it belongs in Detroit for months.  He's now got a mile long rap sheet and a pile of fines as a result, which rolled in even after he made all the repairs. 

Muller believes fully that he's taken this abuse because he's pissed in Coons and others' Cheerios one too many times in council meetings.  Beyond that, Coons put it out there as county exec he was gonna be a hardass on codes.  Muller started making a stink about the fines and abuse he was receiving, and the fines finally stopped flowing soon after.

A city, or I guess in this case county obviously has its housing codes, which are usually used to get people who are letting their house go to shit working on fixing said home up, or to clear out a home being used for crime (think codes coming in and condemning a dilapidated crack house), but on occasion, it can and has been used to fuck with a property owner, for a host of reasons. 

When you have a historic home, then things can get really fun.  Here's the deal, when you have a historic home in need of repair, especially major repair, you don't just go to Lowe's or Home Depot and buy planks of plywood or caulk and fix what needs fixed.  Oh, no.  You have to develop a plan as far as what you're doing, you have to demonstrate that you're using materials that are reasonably historically accurate, and using building techniques that are historically accurate, and then approved by whatever historical housing authority oversees things in that city/county/whatever.  In some cases, they'll only allow specialty contractors do the work, and you know that ain't gonna be cheap, and there may be a wait before get them for the work.  If the board or someone within the board or someone influencing the board wants to fuck with you, they can really make your life hell.

So you have Codes Enforcement, which can be abused, and then answering to what amounts to a bureaucratic HOA board that dictates the way and materials you can use to fix your own home.  You can use this one/two punch to really mess with someone, slow down their repairs with red tape from the historical authority, and pound them with codes violations.

Lotta times, you'll see these sort of shenanigans go on when someone with money or a special interest, private or public who wants the house or property.  So yeah, I can believe Muller when he says he was targeted for harassment by Coons and the County Codes authorities.

In any case, there's been absolutely zero coverage of Muller and the abuse he received by Codes while Coons was County exec.  None.  You'd think it'd at least be mentioned by local news, shit like this usually gets some attention, especially when stacks of fines are piling up like that and you're dealing with a piece of work like Muller.  Nada, Patterico and his readers found nothing thus far, they are the first to cover it far as I can tell.  So I wanna know, why hasn't this been reported on...why is it that only now has anyone heard this, or damn near anything about Coons and his time as County Exec?

Posted by: doubleplusundead at 02:25 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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