FRONT ROYAL – The monthslong feud between a local resident and Warren County over numerous code violations stemming from permits issued to an unlicensed contracting company has come to an end at the local level.
The Board of Building Code Appeals upheld its 2018 decision that six issues of more than 60 presented violated the county building code.
In March 2015, Kristie Atwood lost her home in a fire. She hired Buracker Construction LLC to build her and her family a new home. When the home was finished, Atwood said multiple issues caused not only discomfort for her family but included county building code violations.
Buracker Construction LLC is a corporation related to, but not the same, as Buracker Construction — a licensed contractor in the county. Atwood claimed the county was responsible for her new, ruined home because it issued building permits to an unlicensed corporation.
The county issued a certificate of occupancy in July 2016, despite Atwood’s claims that her home was not complete.
Atwood hired a third-party contractor to inspect her home. That contractor found more than 60 code violations. Atwood submitted the list of violations her inspector found to the Board of Building Code Appeals, which ruled in June 2018 that six of the violations were indeed code violations.
Atwood and her attorney, David Silek, appealed the board’s decision, claiming George Cline, chairman of the board, had a conflict of interest because his company was hired by the Burackers to fix the code violations.
Thursday’s hearing was a re-hearing of the June 2018 meeting. Cline recused himself from the meeting and Arthur Saffelle, the vice chairman, acted as the chair for the meeting.
Silek drew attention to the fact that David Beahm, the county building official, issued permits to Buracker Construction LLC despite that company’s lack of business license to operate in the county and a lack of a contractor’s license.
Multiple permit applications, Silek showed, had incorrect information for Buracker Construction LLC’s business license number.
Although Buracker Construction has a business license, and the same individuals involved in both companies were applying for a permit, licenses are not transferrable, Silek said.
Joel Francis, who represented Buracker Construction LLC, said the board did not have any authority over issues of licensing and permitting. Its job, Francis argued, was to determine whether the notices of violation Beahm issued are sufficient.
Only Beahm, Francis argued, has the authority to determine whether there are code violations. The board is there to field appeals of code violations, not to rule on whether issues brought before them are code violations.
Dan Hotek, a board member, agreed with Francis, saying the board’s responsibility was to determine whether Beahm’s decisions matched up with the county code. The bigger, more “salient” point, Hotek said, was not in the purview of the board.
Board members re-affirmed their previous decision to rule that six of the issues Atwood’s inspector found were code violations but did not take any other action.
Any issues Atwood is still unsatisfied with can be taken to the State Technical Review Board, Beahm said in his statement to the board. Though the issue may continue, the county will no longer be involved, said Jason Ham, who served as counsel for the board on Thursday.