City Hall: Homebuilders, developers violated at least two ordinances
August 04. 2014 2:03PM
A Dell Rapids business, homebuilder and two aldermen could all be in hot water after a legal order to stop work on a residential home was ignored last week, according to multiple officials at City Hall.
A corner lot at 1408 Ripple Creek Road, along 15th Street, is slated to be a single-family residential home, if city officials approve a pending rezone and building permit request. But construction on the project began last week before receiving City Hall’s stamp of approval.
Directed to address the alleged-premature construction by Mayor Scott Fiegen, City Administrator Justin Weiland and Code Enforcement Officer Ben Gruis went to the job site the morning of July 28 where they directed alderman Mark Crisp, owner of Mark Crisp Construction, and his son Josh Crisp to cease work immediately. The lot, Weiland said, was still zoned for city agriculture, not for residential homes, and the builder’s application for a permit was not approved.
“The footings were already poured and the forms were being set up yesterday, and then they went ahead and (poured) it this morning,” Weiland said on July 29.
City Attorney Dean Hammer said Friday because Josh Crisp’s name was on the building permit application, he could be forced to pay a penalty equal to the value of the building permit.
According to the Minnehaha County Register of Deeds, the lot in question, and the five acres of undeveloped land it sits on, is property of Dells Investment Group, Inc. (DIG), owned by Art Eulberg, Alderman Lee Burggraff and Mark Crisp. Both Josh Crisp and DIG are at risk for penalty, Hammer said.
“The owner of the property can be issued civil penalties and also the builder and contractor,” Hammer said. “It depends on who (administrators) are trying to get compliance from.”
Burggraff, Mark Crisp and Josh Crisp declined to comment.
Repercussions for the zoning violation are even less clear cut, Weiland said. When the city council amended its zoning ordinances in 2011, fines and penalties for violations were to be set in a separate resolution by the city council. That didn’t happen.
“A resolution has never been adopted - as an oversight,” Weiland said, adding that administration didn’t become aware of the discrepancy until last week.
On the agenda for tonight’s city council meeting is a resolution to establish fines and penalties for zoning violations. All aldermen are eligible to vote on any motions made.
“They can all vote on it because it applies city wide, because it won’t be specific to this lot in question,” Hammer said.
The council also is expected to discuss the alleged zoning and permit violations.
“We take an oath to uphold the ordinances that are in place. and we as city council members should be held to higher standards, following the ordinances and leading by example,” said Alderman Chad Andrews ahead of Monday‘s meeting.
Without being specific, Andrews said Mark Crisp should be held accountable as both a business owner and elected official.
Hammer said short of removing an alderman from the council, which takes a two-thirds majority vote, city officials are limited on ways to penalize misconduct by a councilor.
“It takes some pretty severe action on the part of an alderman,” he said. “The voters can also circulate a recall petition if they want to remove an official. The problem is, they are an elected official and that means that their ward wants them in office so that makes (aldermen) very hard to remove from office.”
Rezone request for 1408 Ripple Creek Road
Aug. 12 - Consideration by Planning and Zoning
Aug. 18 – First reading before city council
Sept. 1 – Second reading before city council*
Sept. 30 – Site eligible for residential home construction*
*Pending approval by city council