Insurer will reimburse Stonington detective to resolve building official complaint

Stonington -- The town's insurance company has agreed to pay $478 to police Detective Greg Howard to settle the small claims action he filed against the town for forcing him to perform a home inspection he maintained was not necessary.

Howard said he received a call last week from the attorney handling the case for the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, saying CIRMA had agreed to reimburse him for the cost of the $153 inspection plus the time he said he spent meeting with town officials about the issue and that a check was being mailed to him.

Howard said he was pleased he was being reimbursed but was disappointed the dispute had to get to the point of him having to take legal action, especially since he had went to the Board of Selectmen in July asking members to resolve the problem but no action was taken.

Howard had asked the town to either explain why he had to hire the inspector for mechanical work he said he never did in his Pawcatuck home or reimburse him the $153. When he said they failed to do so, he filed a small claims action in New London Superior Court.

"They could have resolved it in July. It would have been cheaper," he said.

Pointing out there have been other complaints about the actions of the town's two building officials, Howard said that he hopes the outcome of his case will show other people that "if they have wronged you, you can stand up to them and be victorious."

The reimbursement is the latest chapter in Howard’s complaint about how he said the inspectors treated him after he made some unpermitted improvements at his Pawcatuck home.

Earlier this year Howard complained to First Selectman Rob Simmons about what he charged was the “unprofessional conduct” and “bullying” by Building Official Lawrence Stannard and Assistant Building Official Robert Chevalier.

Chevalier went to Howard’s home to inspect work that Howard had done without first obtaining a permit. Howard said he applied for a permit when he learned he needed one. The town then issued a permit after Howard met certain requirements.

Howard also charged the town inspectors are misinterpreting building codes and exceeding their authority by demanding work and inspections that are not legally required.

Howard has alleged that during Chevalier’s visit to his house, the building official declined his offer to remove the sheetrock so he could inspect the work he had done and told Howard he would have to hire a plumber, electrician and mechanical contractor to verify that the proper installations had been made. Howard said he was not sure why an HVAC inspection was needed, as no such work had been done, but Chevalier said air flow could have been altered by the other work.

Howard said Chevalier then told him, “I’m not going to allow anyone to say that I signed off on this just because you’re a cop.” 

In addition, Howard has charged that Simmons called police Chief J. Darren Stewart and Stannard called police Capt. Todd Olson about Howard’s complaint after he filed it. Howard has said that calling his superiors about a building code issue was a way to try to intimidate him.

Howard has said he was speaking out on behalf of a large group of homeowners, contractors and business owners who have told him they, too, have been subjected to the “rude, condescending and unprofessional treatment” by the two men.

The town investigated Howard's complaints and disciplined Stannard and Chevalier with warnings temporarily placed in their personnel files. Both men filed union grievances appealing their discipline.






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