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Paper: Church Open Four Years With No Certificate Of Occupancy

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(Photo Credit:  Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) _ A 1,500-seat church in Bridgeport has apparently been operating for four years without a certificate of occupancy that certifies it’s safe.

The Connecticut Post reported Tuesday that the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit on Union Avenue has failed to provide documentation from contractors that would allow the city to issue the permit, which ensures that a building has been inspected for compliance with building codes and is safe.  It is required before any building can be used.

The cathedral opened in 2009.

Its pastor, Rev. Kenneth Moales Jr., also is the chairman of the city’s school board and served as treasurer for Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign.

He told to the newspaper the church had a temporary certificate, but city building official Peter Paajanen said no certificate had been issued.

“They need to work out their problems with the contractors and designers,” Paajanen, told the Post. “I look at this building, a perfectly good building, safe in every way, but because of the bind they are in, I can’t issue this one-sentence letter.”

The church is embroiled in a $7 million foreclosure case and faces nearly $1 million in contractor liens, the newspaper reported.

Finch’s spokeswoman, Elaine Ficarra, said the mayor had no knowledge of the problem.

“Mayor Finch was aware that the building was being utilized, having attended events at that site; however, he had no reason to suspect that an appropriate CO had not been issued,” she told the newspaper. “A local chief elected official or chief executive officer exercises no jurisdiction or authority in such matters.”

Paajanen said he is not in a position to determine whether the church and Moales have been operating the church illegally.

But Daniel Tierney, deputy state building inspector, said that is part of Paajanen’s job.

“If they don’t have either a certificate of occupancy or a temporary certificate of occupancy — and are occupying the building — it is a violation of the state’s building code that towns and cities have to follow,” he said. “It’s a state statute. The city’s building officer should have sent them a letter to cease and desist. If they ignored that letter, he would contact the state housing court prosecutor to get a warrant and have them pinched.”
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Information from: Connecticut Post, http://www.connpost.com
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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