REDMOND, OR -- A local home builder is accusing Redmond City Councilor and Mayoral candidate Anne Graham of interfering with the building permit process. Kevin Fitzpatrick, of Alder Creek Homes, told Council last week that the Planning Department rejected his design six weeks after he submitted plans for a home to be built next door to Graham. And, he says it’s not the first time she's gotten involved in his projects.
Fitzpatrick claims the design for the project on SW 41st Street was rejected because he refused to make what he describes as a minor change to the roof-line. He asked the city to refund or defer his permit fees. Fitzpatrick claims city staff told him they denied his permit because they have to “keep Councilors happy.” At the Council meeting, Graham categorically denied the allegation. She admitted to viewing the plans at the Planning Department, but said she did not speak with staff. Fitzpatrick told Councilors, "If Anne says she didn’t say one word, she just looked at it and left the room? That’s too much without asking permission." He added, "There’s a track record here, too. This came up the year before. This particular Councilor, the year before, interfered with one of my houses. We don’t need to go into it tonight."
Fitzpatrick tells KBND News Graham contacted the Planning Department in February of 2015, just a month after she was sworn into office
. In an email obtained by KBND News, dated February 10, 2015, Graham wrote to then-Community Development Director Heather Richards that she was upset over the design of a home two lots away from her own.
"I am very unhappy that the City review of this submission did not appear to me to meet the intent of the design codes we worked so hard on in Planning Commission."
She went on to say the builder was not making enough changes to the plan to make it different than her own home, which was also built by Fitzpatrick.
"The bones of this home are the same as the bones of my home. All the exterior walls are the same, all the exterior windows are the same, the front visible deck will be the same, etc. As a private citizen I would like to ask the City what we might be able to do at this point about the home currently half-built..?.. and then, more importantly, perhaps with my Councilor hat on, what can be done to insure the codes about this are more carefully enforced."
At last week's Council meeting, the City Attorney said staff was right to deny the most recent application, but told Graham she needs to work with the City Manager to look at neighborhood plans, in the future. Fitzpatrick accepted apologies from several other Councilors but said he felt targeted by Graham. "The fact that I’m building next door to a Council member who wants to show their power and to control what’s built next door to them for their own personal liking, leads me to believe there’s a conflict of interest and I’m being singled out for no good reason; just a paragraph under the code that could be interpreted in different ways."
Fitzpatrick submitted a new plan for the lot this week, which was approved by the Planning Department in three days.