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Basement wall leads to pile of fines

Published May 30, 2007


Fines are mounting for a contractor who, the city says, built an illegal wall in his basement.

As of today, Thomas J. Fredericks and his wife, Melissa, owe $9, 900 to Seminole. The fine will continue to mount by $150 a day until city officials are sure Fredericks has torn down the wall.

Fredericks reported to the city that he has removed the wall and would leave his garage door open for inspectors to check. But when inspectors twice dropped by the house at 7375 Conch Blvd., the garage door was closed and no one was home, said Mark Ely, head of the development department. Ely oversees the city's code compliance officers.

"It's incumbent on Mr. Fredericks to call the city to schedule a formal inspection so that we can validate that he has removed what he says he has removed, " Ely said.

Fredericks did not return phone messages asking for comment.

Fredericks' wall first came to the city's attention in January when a Seminole building inspector saw the construction while the garage door was open. Fredericks was cited soon after.

The problem was twofold: Fredericks, who is a licensed general contractor, built it without the required permit. And the wall is built below the flood zone, where such structures are not permitted.

Having such structures in the city actually puts Seminole's flood insurance rating at risk because they would almost certainly be destroyed or damaged during a storm and would cost the insurer more, Ely said. A higher rating means flood insurance rates would go up.

"It's why we aggressively pursue these types of violations, " Ely said. "He is a licensed general contractor in the state of Florida. They know you should not be building below the base flood elevation."

[Last modified May 29, 2007, 19:28:00]

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