A Philadelphia real estate developer and a Jersey Shore-based general contractor have agreed to pay Philadelphia $160,000 in permit fees and fines after city agencies discovered that the companies had failed to obtain proper permits, or used fraudulently altered ones, for past construction projects.
V2 Properties LLC, a developer who builds single-family homes in Brewerytown and parts of South Philadelphia, and Rock Haven Builders LLC, a Woodbine, N.J-based general contractor that builds in South Jersey and Philadelphia, were cited by city agencies for failing to obtain the proper right-of-way permits from the Streets Department at 94 different construction sites, the city said this week. The Streets Department’s right-of-way unit issues street-closure permits for various types of construction work that might block streets or sidewalks.
On four construction sites, the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections found that Rock Haven Builders had posted previously used permits, altered to appear as if they had been issued for the projects on those sites, the city said.
The properties that were missing the required permits were located throughout city, though most were located in Southwest Philadelphia and South Philadelphia, according to a spokesperson for the Office of the Inspector General, one of the city agencies that investigated the incident. L&I and the Streets Department also were involved in identifying the construction sites where permits were not obtained.
The properties were built between April 2014 and August 2017, the spokesperson said.
Reached by phone, David Henry, the owner of Rock Haven Builders, said that there was “confusion about obtaining the actual permits themselves” and that the companies put up the proper fencing surrounding all of their projects.
“It’s not like we were trying to cause any harm to the city or anything ... we were not attempting to do anything wrong,” Henry said. “We had actually applied for [the permits] — there was confusion in getting them. We filled out the application and sent it in, and after that it got discombobulated.”
Vince Viney, president and founder of V2 Properties, said in a statement that “V2 Properties has not and never will commit any fraud of any kind.”
“We are 100 percent devoted to educating ourselves and our business partners going forward so that we remain in full compliance with the rules and regulations of the City of Philadelphia,” Viney said.
Both companies cooperated with the investigation, the city said. V2 Properties agreed in June to pay the city $100,000 for owed permit fees, and Rock Haven agreed in November to pay $60,000 in fines, according to the city.
V2 Properties also agreed to implement a permit-compliance program that includes periodic training for subcontractors and a designated permit-conformance manager for future projects, the city said.
Rock Haven’s Philadelphia contractor’s license also will be subject to a one-year probationary period, meaning that if the company commits any further violations, it may be subjected to revocation of its contractor’s license, a spokesperson for the Inspector General’s Office said. Henry said his company had no intention of letting the problem happen again.
L&I Commissioner David Perri said in a statement that “skirting the city’s permitting process and construction codes will not be tolerated.”
“L&I has strengthened its audit, investigation, and enforcement units and will continue to work closely with [the Office of the Inspector General] to protect the safety of our community,” Perri said.