City Admits Building Code Mistakes But Neighbors Remain Unhappy

By Jack Douglas | CBS11 News |

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – On a well-established, tree-lined street near Fort Worth’s prestigious Colonial Country Club, there stands an unfinished home much bigger than those around it.

Once finished, it would be the dream home for one family.

“We are hopeful and we are praying we get to see our beautiful home,” said Sara Schuster, who, along with husband Scott, are the owners of the house on Simondale.

But the construction is a nightmare for some neighbors.

“Don’t just hate it for me …hate it because tomorrow this could be you,” said next-door neighbor Christi Schreiber.

The city admits it made a big mistake by allowing the home to be built more than 10 feet too close to the street, angering Schreiber and other neighbors who said the structure eclipses their houses.

CBS 11’s I-Team has found other locations where the city of Fort Worth admits it made mistakes in inspections and construction permits.

Those locations include:
· A club swimming pool that is being built too close to a property line.
· A home near TCU’s Amon G. Carter Stadium, where an investor said he was misled into thinking he could add on to the structure.
· And a garage and work shed in far northwest Fort Worth that is much larger than building codes allow.

“I’ve been with the city now for 18 years, and I’ve never seen such a proliferation of random errors by staff,” assistant city manager Fernando Costa told the I-Team.

“It’s embarrassing to the city. We shouldn’t be making these kind of mistakes. We can only apologize to the people affected,” said Costa, who oversees the city planning and development department, where most of the errors occurred.

But despite the city’s willingness to accept blame, a board appointed by the city council has repeatedly voted in favor of letting the mistakes stand.

In the case of the house on Simondale, the Board of Adjustment-Residential voted 8-to-1 against ordering the builder to tear down the front of the structure. That decision caused a verbal backlash from some neighbors, prompting the board chairman to remove some of them from the hearing.

The protest was led by Schreiber, the next-door neighbor, who told the board her home was once the envy of her friends. “Now,” she said, “people stop by and ask if our yard is the parking lot for the new Walmart …or ask if ours is the maids’ quarters for the starter castle.”

Costa said Bureau Veritas, the third-party contractor picked by the city to ensure that the house met code, has been placed on probation for not adhering to setback requirements.

Officials with the company declined to comment when reached by the I-Team.

In a letter sent to Bureau Veritas, the city said: “Your inspector failed to identify this required setback, approving continued construction of a residence approximately 10 feet forward of the proper location.

“If additional errors are identified…other actions may be taken, up to and including termination of your third-party contract with the city of Fort Worth.”

Unhappy with the Board of Adjustment’s decision, neighbors on Simondale have taken their fight to civil court, where they continue to ask that the front part of the multi-million-dollar home be sheared off.

“I felt ashamed and saddened, that this is my wonderful, great city, and they let this happen,” Martha Fry said of the board’s outcome. “They didn’t enforce their rules,” she said.

If you want to reach CBS11′s Senior Investigative Producer Jack Douglas Jr., you can email him at jdouglas@cbs.com. If you want to reach CBS11′s Jason Allen, you can email him at jmallen@cbs.com.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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