East Marlborough supervisors hear complaints about new Bank of America construction
The new Bank of America branch at Route 1 and Schoolhouse Road remains unopened while final construction details are being worked out.
By John Chambless
The new Bank of America branch at Route 1 and Schoolhouse Road looks finished, but it's not open for business yet.
At the Aug. 4 meeting of the East Marlborough board of supervisors, Steve Silver, owner of the neighboring Hilton Garden Inn, confronted the board for 45 minutes about problems he has had with the construction work at the site.
The new bank is a definite improvement over the vacant gas station that formerly occupied the corner, but Silver said he has had numerous run-ins with the construction crew, beginning with a fence that was placed “yards into my property," he said, before digging even began. Later, he filed complaints about mud being spread onto his property, and at the meeting on Monday night, he focused on a conduit to hold power lines for a light pole that he said is crossing his property.
A sidewalk that is slated to be installed along Route 1 by the hotel is another source of conflict. Silver is insisting that the developer should have $5 million in liabiity insurance for the future sidewalk. And he pointed out that the retention basin at the rear of the bank is holding water and not draining properly.
“I'm frustrated,” Silver told the board. “I feel like I've been disrespected.”
Board president Cuyler Walker cut Silver off at one point, saying, “This board is not instructing your neighbors to trespass on your property. I don't know what you expect from this board.”
Silver and his attorney said they felt that the only way to get action from the construction company was to threaten a lawsuit.
Board member John Sarro told Silver, “We moved the fence when you told us about it. When mud was being dragged out onto your property, we took care of that. What else could we do?”
Ultimately, Silver said what he wants is $5 million in liability insurance for the sidewalk in the right-of-way along his property, to have his legal and engineering expenses in the case reimbursed, and to have the retention ponds inspected to see if they are malfunctioning. “And I do believe that the township has fostered their trespassing,” Silver said of the construction company.
Township solicitor Frone Crawford told Silver, “We are trying to be reasonable and get this done to your satisfaction, but we need a two-way street. … This board doesn't issue building permits, but we do deal with escrow releases. They can't occupy the building if they don't get a certificate of occupancy, and they are not getting the escrow amount they've requested.”
Later in the meeting, the board voted to approve an escrow release to Bank of Ameica of $92,464, instead of the $120,383 they had requested. The remaining money will be held in escrow until the construction is completed to the township's satisfaction.
The board also voted to appoint three members of a new Building Code Appeals Board which would handle any disputes over building codes in the township. The three members approved at the meeting are Dean Musser, John Rosencrans and Rich Basilio. Two alternates were also appointed, Joe Viscuso and Richard Hicks. In the voting, board member Eddie Caudill voted against the appointment of Hicks, a former board of supervisors member. Hicks, who was in the audience, told Caudill, "It's obvious that you make things personal, Eddie." Caudill responded, "I just don't think we need two alternates, that's all."
Hicks pointed out that the appeals board must have a building inspector, an architect and a builder as members, and that the appointments made at the meeting do not fulfill those requirements. Walker said that the requirements would be reviewed in light of Hicks' comments.
The board also issued a certificate of appropriateness for a new garage being built behind 1700 W. Doe Run Road in the village of Unionville. The township Historic and Architectural Review Board had previously approved the plans for the building, saying it "is in keeping with the historic district." The garage is about two feet taller than the building that was removed, but still within the limits of the previously approved plan. It occupies the same footprint.
The original garage collapsed during renovations last winter, and has been the focus of complaints by neighbor Jack Greenwood, who said the building shouldn't have fallen down if more care had been taken during renovations. On Monday night, he suggested that the township should investigate what he said were "safety violations and OSHA violations" by workers during the project.
Crawford told Greenwood that, when the building collapsed, "our building inspector was on the scene fairly rapidly, and reported his findings to the township."
Crawford said Greenwood should write down his observations of the job site issues and submit them to the township in case the investigation needs to be initiated.