BRADENTON -- Despite a four-year deal with Telesis Corp.'s management company for the Bradenton Village Apartments failing to resolve more than 120 code violations cited in 2011, Bradenton's code compliance department has struck a new deal with the property owner rather than proceeding with code-enforcement hearings.
According to Tim Polk, planning and community development director, the goal of code enforcement is not to be punitive in nature, but to ensure the violations are resolved.
"Our whole idea is that the process pushes toward compliance, not really to give anyone a ticket or take them before the board," said Polk. "Compliance is the ultimate goal and as long as they are moving forward, we do that with everybody."
Polk said by no means is that a free pass and he intends to ensure that Telesis meets its obligations.
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"The bottom line is that they don't determine whether the compliance has been cured; we determine that," he said. "They have made some progress since we inspected again (Thursday). But they have a long way to go."
Last month, code enforce
ment officers conducted a sweep of the complex after the 2011 deal expired. The agreement had allowed Telesis time to address 129 code violations, ranging from chipped paint to mold and mildew. In March, 95 of the 110 addresses containing one or more violations remained non-compliant.
Polk said the complex's maintenance staff has simply dropped the ball.
"The main thing is for them to go ahead and continue to do ongoing maintenance, which is an industry standard," he said. "What has happened over the years is they have deferred maintenance and ongoing maintenance has been compromised. You don't do it that way."
Code Compliance Manager Volker Reiss said the agreement was reached after two meetings with the company's representatives. He said the city will conduct monthly inspections to ensure continued progress is made.
Bradenton Village Apartments, 1301 Third St. W., is a Department of Housing and Urban Development Hope VI project, meaning it is about half-public housing and half-private. A contract signed when it was developed took management responsibility away from the Bradenton Housing Authority.
BHA Executive Director Ellis Mitchell Jr., hired in November, has expressed frustration over the lack of action in addressing residents' complaints about interior mold and mildew problems.
Reiss said he has received complaints from residents regarding interior conditions, but when first asked to take them to the complex's management company, Roush Feld Ltd., residents expressed fear of reprisals.
The company has denied allegations of management bullying practices and said they are working toward improving management-resident relations.
Polk confirmed that effort is being made.
"They hired a consultant out of (Washington) D.C.," he said. "I've met with her and they are moving forward with reestablishing a resident council. That's a good thing and that's needed. They have complained about the public relations aspect of what's going on and we understand PR, but the bottom line is that this is not a PR thing, this is about getting those violations cured. You can't PR this thing away. We want it addressed now."
The management company has not denied that interior mold and mildew conditions exist, but instead has blamed the residents for saving on their electric bills by not running the air conditioning units adequately. From the outside, Polk said it's obvious that poorly sealed window frames could be contributing to the interior conditions.
Polk also has said some of the roofs on the 12-year old buildings are in the process of failing. The management company denies that claim, but Polk said that is the next major issue to be discussed as talks continue.
Telesis president and founder Marilyn Melkonian has not replied to multiple requests for comment.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.