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March 05, 1968 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1968-03-05

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Tuesday, March 5, 1968


Page Five


Evading the Rules at Albert Terrace

(Continued from Page 1)
parking requirements collapsed.
Without all the required parking,,
Stegeman could not occupy Albert
Terrace without violating the law.
No one seems to know how or
why the building and safety de-
partment made the error. City
Attorney Peter Forsythe main-
tains the dispute rose over a mat-
ter. of interpreting "vague word-
ing" in the zoning code. But Chief
i Engineer Charles Blackmer, of the
building and safety department,
"Our department was clearly in
error," he says. "There is no ques-
tion the plan should not have been
So, reminded by Blackmer in a
letter, "The required parking of
the building must be provided prior
to occupancy," Stegeman petition-
ed the city to rezone the R2B par-
cel, to permit parking for his
In the meantime, Stegeman
wanted to begin moving tenants
into Albert Terrace. With a good
portion of his parking forbidden,
however, he could not satisfy'
parking requirements,. and there-
fore could not legally occupy the
("Be assured that I have no de-
* sire to occupy without your in-
spection and issuance of a cer-
tificate," he wrote Blackmer.)
To ease matters, the building
and safety department offered to
let Stegeman occupy Albert Ter-
race prematurely, provided he
would first submit a "performance
bond" promising to complete all
required parking by June, 1968.
If he failed to meet the deadline
Stegeman would forfeit $7,500 to
the city, and the city would build
the parking lots itself.
But Blackmer stressed in a
phone conversation the bond had
to come first. Without the bond on
file or completion of all the park-
ing, Blackmer said, Stegeman was
forbidden to occupy any apart-
Stegeman lauded the depart-
ment for the new policy ("Believe
me it is a real step forward and
I think your deparment deserves
every commendation for coming up

with it," he wrote to Blackmer
Aug. 21) and immediately moved
tenants into Albert Terrace. He
posted no bonds.
Meanwhile by Aug. 28, inspec-
tion records indicate, Stegeman
had already oceupied 32 of his
62 apartments-before the build-
ing and safety department had in-
spected and approved them.
Section 121.1 of the building
code states, "No building shall be
used or occupied in whole or in
part until the certification of use
and occupancy shall have been is-
According to Blackmer, building
and safety inspected the 32 apart-
ments August 29, after they had
already been occupied.
Ordinance Chapter 98, Section
123.3 states, any person who vio-
lates the code "shall, upon con-
viction, be punished by a fine of
not more than five hundred dol-
lars or by imprisonment not to ex-
ceed ninety days, or by both."
The building and safety depart-
ment pressed no charges against
Stegeman, and Stegeman paid no'
(Stegeman fared 'far better this
time than he had a year before.
City records indicate that on Dec.
30, 1966 Ann Arbor's municipal
court convicted and fined him $350
for occupying 14 apartments at
525 Walnut street prior to inspec-
tion and- approval. Stegeman
pleaded guilty.)
Why didn't the building and
safety department press charge
against 'Stegeman?
City Attorney Forsythe says, "I
have no comment. My recollection
is that the tenants were not moved
in until after the units were in-
Blackmer, however, recalls the
incident and has the facts record-
ed in his files. "It wasn't worth
the trouble to fine the 32 units
individually," he declares.
In any event, tenants were al-
ready occupying the 32 units.
There were still 30 empty apart-
ments left, however, so to prevent
further illegal occupancy, accord-
ing to Blackmer, he told Stege-
man not to move tenants into any
more units.

Stegeman then occupied another
five apartments. The units had
not been inspected or approved.
This time the building and safe-
ty department did file charges
against Stegeman for occupancy'
before inspection. On Oct. 18, the
court fined him $250.
("There should be some kind of
way to stop this thing," Blackmer
says. "I suppose we should ask
for more severe fines.")
By mid-September, however,
city, officials were still squabbling
over the zoning matter, Albert Ter-
race still did not have its required
parking, and Stegeman had not
filed the bond as promised.

complaining about holes in bed-
room walls where windows should
have been, missing air-condition-
ers, missing washing machines,
bare electrical outlets and 40°
temperatures inside the building
(the heating didn't work until
October)-but basically city in-
spectors say they found Stegeman's
posh apartments solidly con-
Blackmer did find one discre-
pancy, however. $tegeman's zoning
compliance clearly specified 62
one-bedroom apartments, which
under city code require 49,600
square feet of land. 'With 51,034
square feet under Albert Terrace,j
Stegeman's plans surpassed the

furnish his apartments as the per-
mit intended.
Today most of Albert Terrace's.
apartments still have two bed-'
rooms, say Albert Terrace resi-
By Nov., 1967, with a number
of inspections and violations to its
record, Albert Terrace was still
very much a live issue at the De-
partment of Building and Safety
Engineering. Despite Blackmer's
(and Forsythe's) repeated warn-I
ings and Stegeman's repeated
promises, the performance bond
had still not been filed. And the
required parking had not been
When on Nov. 27, therefore.
Stegeman's finally delivered a
check for $7,500, the building and
safety department hoped the Al-
bert Terrace case was coming to a
It was not. When the city treas-
urer tried to cash the check, he:
discovered the check was drawn
on a closed account.
The city returned the check to
Stegeman, demanding a certified

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Wed., March 6
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Disturbed by recent events, minimum requirements.
Blackmer wrote Stegeman a firm When Blackmer inspected the
letter Sept. 13: "Since we have
not received the bond: occupancy apartments for the first time Aug.
of the building cannot be ap- 29, however, he found not one-
proved . . . we are withdrawing bedroom but two-bedroom apart-
permission to occupy any units ments. Sixty-two two-bedroom
that are not already occupied." apartments require 62,000 square
For emphasis and qualification, feet of land, according to the
Blackmer wrote Stegeman ,again building code.
two days later: "Permission to Blackmer protested, and Stege-
occupy those units (not yet oc- man promptly promised to re-
cupied) is being withdrawn until
a performance bond is on file or
all the required parking is pro-
vided and approved.
Blackmer also wrote a memo
to Forsythe to keep him up to date.
"He (Stegeman) has done a good
job of putting us off," it said.
"This is a compliment to him, not
a criticism of us."
So Sept. 19, Stegeman received
a letter from Forsythe. "Without
the bond we must take all the nec-
essary stept to prevent (occupancy
of the remaining units)," warned
Forsythe. "The performance bond, V
which I had been led to believe
had been posted, was a major con-
si'deration in permitting any oc-
cupancy without the required
Stegeman posted no bond. .
Aside from the occupancy vio-
lations, bond issue, and zoning
dispute, building and safety de-
partment actually found little "at
Albert Terrace to complain about.
It is true student tenants such as
J. Randall Birndorf, '69, wrote
angry letters to the department


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