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Homeowner’s remibursement request rejected

By Staff | Nov 1, 2011

City Council denied Monday reimbursement for a permit related to Chinese drywall remediation for Ryan Tronchet, a Cape Coral homeowner.

Tronchet was looking to recoup $467.89 for the price of the permits, hoping to take advantage of Resolution 13-11, which allows for a waiver of those fees for homes built between 20052008 with defective Chinese drywall.

Council approved Resolution 13-11 this year.

Tronchet’s request to waive those fees was shot down with a deadlocked 44 vote. Several on council worried that approving Tronchet’s petition would set an unfair precedence as his home was built outside of the time frame covered in the resolution.

“We’re going to have to open this council to every individual who thinks they have a valid case prior to the trigger date I fear the flood gate this might open,” Councilmember Marty McClain said.

Councilmember Kevin McGrail agreed despite sympathizing with Tronchet and homeowners like him. He said those homeowners have had their “Florida dreams crushed” but wasn’t comfortable retroactively approving Tronchet’s request.

“Going back in time is not wise for this council to do,” McGrail said.

Tronchet said he was a responsible homeowner who did not abandon his home and instead fixed the problem. He felt that all homeowners facing remediation of Chinese drywall should be allowed to take advantage of Resolution 13-11, despite when their home was constructed.

“It’s not fair to everyone, it should be open to all homeowners,” he said. “I’ve done every step of what this resolution requires and I just want to be treated fairly.”

Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz, who crafted Resolution 13-11, felt Tronchet should be helped by the council and supported his efforts.

“All the steps have been followed To not approve this petition would be to tell citizens we don’t care about their finances,” Chulakes-Leetz said.

Prior to the adoption of Resolution 13-11, over 330 defective drywall permits were issued at an average cost of $500. This equates to over $165,000 in cost recovery for the Building Division, according to city documentation.

Though Councilmember Bill Deile voted in favor of Tronchet’s request, he said there might be a possibility that other homeowners would seek the same treatment.

“I’m trying to rationalize how we can do this without establishing a precedence that might in the future come back to haunt us,” he said.

Voting against the reimbursement were Councilmembers Derrick Donnell, Erick Kuehn, McGrail and McClain. Supporting it were Mayor John Sullivan, Councilmember Peter Brandt, Chulakes-Leetz and Deile.