BRADENTON -- Bradenton code enforcement officers swept through the Bradenton Village Apartments in late January after a four-year agreement expired with property owner Telesis Corps. Despite confidence expressed by property managers the city would be satisfied with the work, 95 of the 110 addresses cited with code violations in 2011 remained noncompliant.
"This is nothing new," Code Enforcement Department head Tim Polk told the Bradenton Herald. "They've been very negligent, and I brought it to their attention three years ago that the management of that property is inadequate for that development to be only 12 years old and to have a lot of things that are pretty bad.
"The city has a substantial investment in that property and we are to this day still paying" tax increment funds, Polk added. "So we still have an investment in it and they need to step it up."
The reinspection was a followup to a 2011 sweep when code enforcement officers found more than 130 violations still existed from an original 2009 inspection.
The latest sweep targeted exterior violations such as mold and mildew on the buildings, exterior lighting and landscaping. In lieu of dragging all 130 violations through the code enforcement process in 2011, the city agreed to a deal offered by Telesis to fix all of the problems within four years.
"If you look at the typical case, it's taken to the board and they make a ruling," said code compliance manager Volker Reiss. "If they are in violation, you get X amount of days to fix it or fines begin. The reason why we didn't get a formal ruling from the board was, first, they submitted a document and agreed to take care of the violations. To take all of these cases through the board would have bogged us down administratively."
While violations at the 95 addresses remain unresolved, code enforcement has few complaints on record from residents about interior conditions.
Interior complaints about mold and mildew to the Bradenton Housing Authority spurred frustration from Executive Director Ellis Mitchell Jr., hired in November.
Mitchell brought the issue back to light because the complex is a Department of Housing and Urban Development Hope VI project that includes private and public housing.
The BHA has about half of the more than 200 units at Bradenton Village for public housing, but it does not have management authority under terms of the original development contract.
BHA Commissioner Rigo Rivera confirmed the interior conditions at a recent board meeting, saying he saw the problems firsthand. Polk has not, but said he has seen the conditions outside that would create the conditions that residents are complaining about.
"There are roofs that will start to fail," said Polk. "If you go out there right now, you can see tiles starting to curl upwards. You can see from the outside that there are windows that need to be replaced, sealed and recaulked."
While the Bradenton Herald also received complaints, residents have declined to go on record for fear of management reprisals -- something Polk said is commonplace.
"The bottom line is that they have management problems with how they deal with residents," he said. "They are trying to make some changes to become more resident friendly, but what's been the case is that people felt they were going to be mistreated even to the point of being evicted if they complain."
Charles Tini of Neighborhood Partners, the agent for property manager Roush Field Ltd., has denied resident accusations of bullying and mistreatment. Tini and Telesis president and founder Marilyn Melkonian could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Andy Laskey, regional property manager for Neighborhood Partners, disputes the city's inspection. Laskey said he was told by the city in 2011 that all of the 2009 violations were resolved with the exception of landscaping.
"We submitted an amended landscaping plan, which the city approved and then got a letter saying that was cleared up," said Laskey.
The city maintains the 2009 violations were never cleared and the cases are active, according to Reiss. In terms of the landscaping issues being resolved, Polk called the current landscaping "atrocious."
" They had an irrigation line set up, but never turned the water on," Polk said. "They don't determine what's in compliance. We determine that. I'm going to send them a letter because we need to get something formal to them.
"If we need to take it back to the board, then we will. They need to step up to the plate and put some money in their budget for maintenance. It behooves them to take care of that."
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.