Art Rojsza told Discover Ferndale, “You will not be disappointed,” when referring to the exterior work he plans to have completed by the end of October on the “Clock Tower” building at 2147 Main Street.
The building has been an ongoing point of legal challenges between the city and Rojsza regarding construction and safety issues on the property. It has also been a source of conversation between those who see it as an affront to the community’s rules and laws, creating an unsafe eyesore, and those who see it as one man’s unique self-expression and a potential asset to the city.
The City of Ferndale’s former insurance company recently chose to pay Rojsza $130,000 rather than continue to pursue legal challenges placed by Rojsza regarding how the city enforced permits and laws citing he had been singled out for harassment (details available in a Bellingham Herald article). This was followed by mediation between the city and Rojsza which has just resulted in a new agreement that defines the terms agreed to by Rojsza and the city for going forward with construction on the property.
According to the “settlement addendum” document provided by city staff to Discover Ferndale, several remaining legal claims and appeals will be withdrawn and/or dismissed by both the city and Rojsza. These include a nuisance ordinance violation issued in May of 2014 which is currently being appealed and Rojsza’s appeal of the revocation of the building permit.
The city agreed it will rescind revocation of the building permit and reinstate it as long as the following conditions are met:
- Rojsza provides drawings and/or plans detailing what has been constructed
- Rojsza submits a full structural review by a structural engineer which certifies the existing structure is safe and structurally sound
- If the structure is not deemed safe or structurally sound Rojsza has 90 days to make the necessary fixes. If after 90 days the engineer is still unable to certify the property as safe and structurally sound the building permit will be rescinded and Rojsza will not have the right to appeal that action.
If the building permit is reinstated (based on the engineer’s certification of the structure), Rojsza will be required, as do all permit holders, to perform construction within what the permit allows and following Rojsza’s plans already reviewed and approved by the city. New plans will require new permits. Minor modifications will require review and approval.
According to city staff, inspections will be conducted by inspectors from other cities in order to ensure impartiality in that part of the process. The city will cover the costs for this.
The agreement dictates all exterior construction, roofing and siding be completed by October 31, 2015. A landscaping plan must be submitted by October 31, 2015 and work completed by January 30, 2016.
Failure to meet these deadlines or other requirements will cause the permit to be rescinded, bypassing the typical appeals process with the city and taking the issue straight to Superior Court of Whatcom County to determine what remedies, including penalties, will be appropriate.
This agreement was unanimously approved during the last city council meeting with council member Carol Bersch abstaining.