City Allows St Anne Move-In without Signed Certificate of Occupancy

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Friday, August 24, 2012, 10:50 am
Alice Dreger

The City of East Lansing is allowing move-in of students to St. Anne Lofts without a signed certificate of occupancy having been issued.

This morning, a balloon-festooned table stood outside of St. Anne Lofts, the downtown project that has been plagued with safety concerns. The DTN Management representative there informed me that students were now moving in. I asked whether they had a Certificate of Occupancy (C.O.) -- the document that allows occupants to move into a building, after it has been found safe to inhabit by the local municipality. He informed me that the owner has a temporary C.O. for floors 2-4.

I went to the Building Department to ask for a copy, and was informed the C.O. exists only in draft form because it has not yet been signed by building inspector Scott Weaver. The staff person told me that Mr. Weaver would not be in until Monday. I informed the City Manager's office as well as the DTN representatives and the East Lansing Police Department that occupancy was occurring without legal approval to occupy.

Since that time, I have spoken to City Manager George Lahanas, who confirmed for that the C.O. has not been signed, but that Planning Director Tim Dempsey has allowed move-in based on the belief that Mr. Weaver will soon sign the C.O.

Lahanas confirmed for the record that the City is allowing occupancy without a signed Certificate of Occupancy.

Long-time Building Department employee Howard Asch this summer resigned his post following Council's findings that the City's Building Department had allowed work to proceed on the building based on verbal agreements rather than signed paperwork as required by regulations.

Safety concerns on this building have remained a heated issue for City Council. The building suffered a collapse during the construction, after a fifth floor was constructed without legal permission. On July 24, 2012, Council passed a motion by Mayor Goddeeris that "weekly reports regarding the deficiencies [found by the independent engineering safety review] will be given to Council." If these reports have been given to Council, I have been unable to obtain them from the Council packets or from Tim Dempsey, whom I asked on August 23 to provide them.

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