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A mayor’s house, contractors and a web of self-dealing

The Dripby Brew Editors5:36 pmApr 24, 20190

Pugh fined $500 for new roof without permit after The Brew reported lapses

Mayor was cited for not having a building permit or permission to replace the slate roof on her Ashburton house with asphalt shingles

Above: In the historic district where Mayor Catherine Pugh lives, Ashburton, city permission is required before a slate roof can be replaced with other material. (Fern Shen)

Nearly a month ago, Baltimore Brew pointed out two irregularities with the roof on Mayor Catherine Pugh’s house on tree-lined Ellamont Road in Ashburton:

• The slate roof shown in our 2017 photos appeared to have been completely replaced with asphalt shingles. Officials at the Commission for Historic and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) told us Pugh had not asked permission to make the change, as required in a historic district.

• Pugh also had not obtained a building permit for the roof replacement work, city records showed.

On Monday, Pugh was found in violation of city code for failure to obtain the proper permit (violation 1782396A-1) and was issued an environmental citation (55507511) for “replacing roof shingles in a CHAP area without authorization.”

For the latter offense, she was fined $500, which must be paid by May 22.

She was also warned that “ongoing violations must be corrected” by May 2 at the risk of incurring additional fines.

“Default fines will be triple the fine amount up to $1,000,” the Environmental Citation and Order reads.

Does this mean the mayor – already facing a criminal investigation by the Maryland State Prosecutor for her unreported sale of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Healthy Holly children’s books – must replace her roof by next week?

“Intention to Address”

Not necessarily, said Tammy D. Hawley, chief of strategic communications for the Housing Department.

“If she hasn’t taken corrective action, she could indicate that she plans to,” Hawley said. “She could request a hearing, for example. She just has to show the intention to address the issue.”

Asked what flagged the city to the illegal roof work, Hawley said the information came from this website.

“I have to say,” Hawley said, “it was The Brew’s April 2 story.”

The Brew has identified a number of other irregularities in connection with Pugh’s house, purchased in a cash-only transaction in 2016 shortly after she was sworn in as mayor.

Sources say the house renovations were done at a deep discount by a politically connected contractor (Commercial Construction) and that Pugh was moved into the house for a minimal fee by a politically connected company (Allen & Son) whose owner received a break on a city-owned condominium.

None of the parties contacted for this story, including Pugh’s private attorney, has responded to questions about these transactions.

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