State: Church must close without pape...

State: Church must close without paperwork

Posted in the Trumbull Forum


Lodi, NJ

#1 Jul 22, 2013
BRIDGEPORT -- It was a capacity crowd Sunday morning at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit.

The faithful filled the 1,500-seat sanctuary while the adjoining school rang with the sound of happy children. But there was just one problem.

They were all there illegally.

Since 2009, when the cathedral first opened its doors on Union Avenue, it has been operating without a certificate of occupancy in violation of state building laws -- a fact that city officials acknowledge, but have done nothing about.

A certificate of occupancy ensures that a building has been inspected for compliance with building codes and is safe to use. The city's oversight in this case raises questions about the safety of the people inside the cathedral.

This revelation comes at a time when the church's pastor, Rev. Kenneth Moales Jr., has had to explain why the church and its property are firmly in the jaws of a $7 million foreclosure and another $1 million in liens that threaten the cathedral's closure.

Moales, who is chairman of the city's school board and served as Mayor Bill Finch's campaign treasurer, didn't appear concerned about the cathedral's lack of a certificate of occupancy Monday.

"We have one. We have a temporary one," Moales contended. But when told there is no record of a certificate of occupancy on file with the city's building office, he added: "It's not a 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," spokeswoman Elaine Ficarra said Monday night. "A local chief elected official or chief executive officer exercises no jurisdiction or authority in such matters."

City Building Official Peter Paajanen, a mayoral appointee, said a certificate of occupancy is required under state law before a building can be occupied or used. Although he acknowledged it would be a violation of state law to occupy a building without a certificate of occupancy, Paajanen said he is not in a position to determine whether the church and Moales are operating illegally.

"That's not up to me," he added, shrugging.

"What?" asked Daniel Tierney, deputy state building inspector, incredulous. "It's the job of the building official to enforce the state building code. 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.

"It's a state statute," he said. "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."

According to state law, "Any person who violates any provision of the State Building Code shall be fined not less than two hundred dollars or more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than six months, or both."

Paajanen said he is prepared to give the church a temporary certificate of occupancy, which would be valid for parts of the building, as soon as they provide the proper documentation.

When it was pointed out that the building has been used for the past four years as both a house of worship, drawing hundreds from around the area every Sunday, and a kindergarten through grade six school, Paajanen said he was not aware of that.

"When we were there to inspect it, it was not being used," he said. "All systems of life safety have been approved and are in place. They just need the documents from the contractors and the design people. I can't issue a CO without these documents."

Added Ficarra: "Our building department is aware of this issue and is awaiting final documentation from the architect, designer and construction firm, and from the fire marshal and zoning office prior to issuing a certificate of occupancy."

Stratford, CT

#2 Jul 23, 2013
Ruht Roh


Since: Jan 08

Location hidden

#3 Jul 23, 2013
They just need the documents from the contractors and the design people.... "Our building department is aware of this issue and is awaiting final documentation from the architect, designer and construction firm..."
From what I've read in one of the previous articles on this joint, contractors, are parties in the $1million lien. So I don't think we're going to see an easy resolution THERE.

Tell me when this thread is updated:

Subscribe Now Add to my Tracker

Add your comments below

Characters left: 4000

Please note by submitting this form you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator. Send us your feedback.

Trumbull Discussions

Title Updated Last By Comments
News Raid On Bridgeport Bar Yields 85 Underage Drink... 9 hr Samuels Furnace Man 10
News Council grapples with Ganim's cop budget Sun America Gentleman... 1
News 3 Charged With Stealing $300K In Money Orders F... Sat America Gentleman... 1
Local Politics Do you approve of Bill Finch as Mayor? Sat BPT 3
Stop A Real Problem, Cutting MIddle Class Retir... Sat BPT 4
News Women Discuss Careers at Housatonic Community C... Sat BPT 6
News Property owners sue Bridgeport over perfume fac... Fri America Gentleman... 1
More from around the web

Personal Finance

Trumbull Mortgages