Manchester's building department mired in red tape, says Willow Street business owner
Fred Fricker, owner of Willow Street Auto, at his business in Manchester on Saturday. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
Fricker said he is still unsure whether he has a valid occupancy permit, but decided to speak out anyway "if I can make it easier for the next guy."
"It was great," Fricker said of his conversation with Gatsas. "He said he was sorry and asked me for some suggestions to improve the process."
"I said to Fred, 'They do 10,000 permits a year. I apologize … We made a mistake.'"
LaFreniere said his department tried to help Fricker, but added that with complex commercial buildings, many people hire an expert to guide them.
"He wanted to build a new building in a new location, then build another, then changed his mind and wanted to do something different. He didn't have a lot of experience with the process and didn't take advice," LaFreniere said.
"Max Sink (deputy director of building regulations) said he was too busy to give me any help," Fricker said.
Sink was unavailable Friday, but recently told the Sunday News he does try to help people whenever he can. He said he helped Alderman-at-Large Joseph Levasseur, an attorney who owns Theo's restaurant in Manchester. Before he was elected in 2012, Levasseur reopened the restaurant after a fire with a verbal approval even though all of the work hadn't been completed,
Being an alderman does give him more clout to help constituents, Levasseur said.
"Government listens to elected representatives more often than not," Levasseur said Friday.
"Nobody likes to be told what to do, and nobody wants to make changes they can't afford," Levasseur said.
People should contact their alderman if they do have problems with building or any city department, Levasseur said.
Roy, the aldermanic representative on the planning board, said that when he raised Fricker's concerns, he was told the delay was caused by city documents being sent to Fricker's former lawyer instead of to Fricker.
"It was just an addition to a garage. It wasn't this major thing. It was crazy," Fricker said.
Much of his financial loss came from not being able to open the repair business. It cost about $30.000 for surveyors, a lawyer, engineers, architects, and permit fees and another $25,000 to actually build the addition.
"I planted two trees. Leon said they were too small," Fricker said.
He planted bigger ones.
After his conversation with Gatsas, Fricker said it's time to determine whatever happened to his occupancy permit. He hasn't heard anything since the conditional permit expired last October. He has met all the requirements of the conditional occupancy permit except for the granite curbing, he said.
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