No, Aaron Schat’s plans to transform Sterling Heights into workforce housing are not shot to hell.
But they’ve been dealt a setback.
In October, the Bishop Planning Commission, displaying a shot of courage, voted unanimously to recommend revocation of Schat’s conditional-use permit.
But it was no cheap shot.
City staff laid out for commissioners how Schat aaroneously [sic] had work performed on-site without the proper permits.
Staff also discovered 4-5 people living at the property during its October inspection, a no-no without an occupancy permit.
*Suggested name change: Call it Schat’s Landing (a play on the ‘80s era soap opera Knot’s Landing).
As readers may recall, Schat was granted a conditional-use permit by the planning commission on July 26.
By August 12, he had been flagged for grading without a permit.
The Building Dept. subsequently issued a stop work order.
But then, as the staff report chronicles, “After a permit was issued for grading work on the 337 East Pine Street property [Schat is converting the backyard of an adjacent home he owns into a parking lot], Building and Planning Department Staff observed demolition in the alley way, broken water lines and grading debris littering the alley and flooding the property, and demolition work on the exterior of the 369 East Pine Street [Sterling Heights] property. Subsequent inspection … observed plumbing work being conducted without a permit.”
*Schat has also run afoul of the city and been handed administrative citations over the past few months for un-permitted work being done at the BofA building and at Whiskey Creek.
But as Schat’s attorney explained, the reason work began on 369 was because the grading permit was issued for 369 – what staff describes as a clerical error, but which Schat translated into opportunity.
As Schat’s attorney claimed, the definition of grading permit allows for excavation, build and a combination thereof.
But as Dishion said at the October hearing, the plans show 337, even if the address on the permit is incorrect. And that the permit was for clearing and mucking, not excavation/build.
“A competent project manager would not have made those mistakes,” said Dishion. “There was no confusion as to what needed to be done on this project,” he added.
There were shots fired across the bow over a few details.
City staff said that water and irrigation lines were damaged during grading and that the irrigation ran for a substantial period of time and caused flooding.
Schat testified that the sprinklers had been turned off and the flooding was created by a hose that had been left on.
City Building Official Tyson Sparrow then reiterated his belief that it was more than a hose.
As for the people living on the property, Schat said he needed tenants on-site because “people were destroying the building.”
He said he initially had two people living in the building, and then one left and a few others came in but the object was always the same – security.
Dishion said Schat had specifically been told in a meeting between Dishion, Schat and City Attorney Dean Pucci that no one could live on-site and that if he was worried about security, someone could live in a trailer at the property.
In a final plea, Schat said “I had no idea I was doing something out of order.” He described himself as an owner-builder and that he needed help from the city moving through/learning the process.
He was left singing the Bluey Armstrong as the commission voted to recommend revocation of his C.U.P. The issue has not yet been brought before Bishop City Council.
Schat references not included in this piece:
– long schat
– moon schat
– schat and a chaser