SEPTEMBER 8, 2015
Roll Call -The roll call showed the following Board Members present: Eileen Bendis, Eric Berkowitz, Fern McBride.
Board Members on conference call: Abe Ben Aviv, Steven Faigin, Gene Sicoli, Richard Robins
Approval of Minutes -Minutes of the April 21, 2015 were distributed and posted in advance. A motion was made by Eric Berkowitz to accept the minutes as written.
The motion was seconded and passed by general consent.
Appoint New Secretary -The President expressed the Board’s appreciation to Joan Sapik for her contribution as Secretary and accepted her resignation.
Generator -Manager Kande Lewandowski announced that we received the first change order from Fischer Electric which is a change in the site plans for the building for gas permits and plumbing. It was a change order in the amount of $450.
Ratify Approval of Balcony Repairs -A few balconies are in very bad disrepair. We need to use reserve account funds for balcony repair work to be performed at this time.
A motion to ratify the decision to use reserve monies to repair the selected balconies was made by Steven Faigin, seconded, and passed by general consent.
Approve Renewal of Line of Credit -We need to renew our line of credit with Valley Bank in the amount of $600,000 pending the review of terms by Treasurer Steven Faigin.
*Association financial records are available in the Regency Tower office to all association members via official request. - editor*
Adjournment -There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:40 A.M.
PRESIDENTS REPORT SEPTEMBER 19, 2015 Board President Eileen Bendis
SEPTEMBER 19, 2015
Board President Eileen Bendis
You may be wondering why I would start this summer update with this statement. Perhaps you should look and notice how much our legal fees have increased over the last few years. This is NOT because of ordinary contracts or legal matters. It is because of residents or their guests wanting to challenge the rules or regulations that they knew and agreed to follow before signing the acknowledgement form at their orientation. We have 203 units in the Regency Tower. If we did not have a set of rules that were meant for all to follow, we would be in utter chaos. Please try to resolve your problems with the Board or management before going to an attorney.
Moving on, we have finally obtained the final permits for the emergency generator project. This has definitely taken much longer than we anticipated (Click Here for insight into the dilatory review process). Work will finally be started on September 21. The cooling tower contract has been presented to the contractor’s attorney for their input.
On a sad note, we have lost some long time residents; Shirley Appleman, Marion Tuman, Mary Kaplan, long time lessee, Father Ken Wolnoski, and just recently Joyce Ramey.
As usual, our maintenance department has been very busy on numerous projects. All hallways and doors have been painted, repairs to the pool pump and pump room have been made. After the painting, the carpets will be shampooed. A new grill by the beach area and a new refrigerator in the Rendezvous room have been purchased. The Game room is temporarily closed due to the generator project. We needed the space for storage.
We had a great practice run with Hurricane Grace, even though it did not materialize. Building preparation was implemented and it put everyone on notice. Balcony furniture was brought in and if you left yours out, maintenance had to bring it in. When you are leaving for more than 3 days you are required to bring in your furniture, turn your unit’s water off, and let security know you are leaving. Maintenance does not have time to secure the building and take care of your personal property. Please inform your guests of this procedure.
We still don’t have a definite date for the beach re-nourishment project, other than it will begin in November. As soon as we have details we will notify everyone.
Thank you in advance for your patience during our projects.
The Municipal Gauntlet
The majority of applications warrant review by no more than three inspectors. With few exceptions, permits issued to association unit owners for home improvements are vetted at desks dedicated to plumbing, electrical and/or structural review - and usually approved within several business days. However, when an association solicits a permit for a more complex project, the application makes additional stops - whether for landscaping, zoning, floodplain management, etc. - depending on anticipated project impacts. As for our planned Regency Tower emergency power system, the following is a summary of its travels through the City’s design review minefield.
Down the Rabbit Hole
On April 14, a permit application submitted by Fischer Electric was logged in by Fort Lauderdale Service Clerk Cecile Thomas, and tagged for initial review by inspectors in Building/Structural, Electrical, Floodplain Management, Landscaping, Mechanical (A/C), Plumbing and Zoning – virtually every desk in plan review. On April 16, it was sent to the Structural and Electrical desks; it passed structural in 2 hours as Chief Electrical Inspector Scott Dry approved the electrical component in only 50 minutes. On April 20, it was sent to plumbing, where Plumbing Inspector Greg Diaz added “notes” inquiring about piping, gas consumption rates and requesting additional drawings. While the notes were being addressed, the project was reviewed on April 22 by Structural Plans Examiner Victor Blanco in Zoning, who added notes questioning the project’s impact on outdoor parking – a strange request for a project located in the garage. On April 23, Landscape Inspector Karl Lauridsen signed off on the plan, surmising an absence of landscaping in the maintenance room.
Although Fischer responded to Diaz’ plumbing inquiries and Blanco’s parking concerns within a few days, the permit application collected dust until June 3, when the Floodplain Manager asked if the equipment was planned for installation at or above the base Flood Elevation. On the same day, Mechanical Inspector Paolo Serafini added notes demanding new drawings that show relocated exhaust outlets and ducts discharging to the outdoors. He specified that the revised drawings should demonstrate termination points 10 feet from the property lines; 3 feet from exterior walls and roofs; and 10 feet from operable openings into the building. Despite their unconditional irrelevance to the project located in the maintenance room, the drawings were executed and returned a few days later. After another three weeks, on July 1, Serafini asked for another drawing showing how the pipes are supported and inquired if exterior project elements adequately resist wind loads.
Three weeks after Fischer responded, on July 24, Chief Plumbing Inspector Joe DeMaio appropriated the plumbing review from Diaz, and added three more notes. He requested a drawing that shows the shut-off valve after the gas meter and different piping to the new generator. In his last note, he lowered the boom. After four months in City plan review, he informed Fischer that the project must also be approved by Broward County.
Broward Takes a Bite
While Florida Law vests the City of Fort Lauderdale with enforcement of The Florida Building Code for most construction, it cedes jurisdiction to Broward County for certain projects, including Swimming Pools and Elevators. Recently, certain projects were reclassified for discretionary dual review by the County and the City – including generators. Ironically, details about this additional regulatory rain dance were never announced to the building trades and engineering communities. At the end of the day, Evans observations about the City’s obtuse regulatory practices for life-safety projects were borne out.
Once approved by the County, the project was bounced back to the City, where it was returned to mechanical and plumbing on August 18, the only two desks that hadn’t yet approved the plans. On August 20, the plan was reviewed and approved by a third Plumbing Inspector – Joe Kajak. On August 22, the plan made its way back to Mechanical Plans Examiner Paolo Serafini. Despite intensive investigation and a truckload of notes, Serafini finally indicated that no mechanical review was requiredy. After emailing an August 24 notice of the permit’s approval and collecting all outstanding fees, Building Services Clerk Robin McIntosh sent it to the Reception Desk for pickup on August 25, 2015. According to Fischer, while this regulatory roller coaster has been exasperating, it was far from the worst he had experienced – citing one project that was under scrutiny for more than a year. Also, this is not our first marathon dance with design review – as it took six months to land permission for replacing our roof.
The permit hunt prompted the contractor to apply for two change orders. On August 28, we picked up a $450 expense to comply with DeMaio’s request for a detailed load drawing of the entire gas line - with all attached appliances. On September 14, Change Order #2 was submitted for $1996 in permit fees for the project, the gas line, and filing fees for Permit Services, Notice of Commencement, etc. Verified by the Engineer, the cumulative invoice of $2446 was addressed with a draft from the regulatory contingency provided for this purpose.
Securing the permit also triggered a vendor payment of $44,000 - contractually earmarked for the purchase of equipment, which was ordered just after Labor Day. On September 11, receipt of manufacturer and distributor shipping windows affirmed major equipment deliveries through November. Demolition commenced in the garage on September 21, where channels that will house interred concrete encased conduit were carved in the maintenance room, the meter room and the connecting hallway. Inspected by our Engineer on September 24, the excavation must also be examined and approved by a City Inspector, a protocol anticipated for every step of the project.
The silver lining – having been alerted to the previously undisclosed requirement for County review, regulatory approval for our cooling tower will be simultaneously solicited from the City and County. Like the emergency power system, a cooling tower installation is among the handful of association projects scrutinized by every desk in Design Review. Without convincing evidence of an impending disaster, there is no “fast track” option. Instead, after exercising reasonable due diligence, the association will once again take a deep breath, hold its nose, and patiently navigate this mind-numbing “House of Mirrors”.