How Long Do I Play Nice?

The process of getting a permit to fill in the old swimming pool was anything but pleasant.

I started by taking a ride to the Town Office, with my filled out paperwork and plot surveys in hand….and a blank check (because what permit is free?!).

Anyone in the know was out to lunch (figuratively, not literally!!) but the nice woman with whom I did speak felt it was a simple request and Mr. X would call me by the end of that day.

Um. Not. That was a Monday. Tuesday I was gone for the day and returned to no messages.

Wednesday morning I called the office, was put on hold for more than ten minutes, no one came back so I hung up.

Wednesday afternoon, I call and got Mr. X’s voice mail. Explained to him that I had already gotten a time commitment from the pool people to drain the pool (a 24-hour process) and from the excavator and I needed to let both workers if their intended start date would match up with a permit in my little hand.

No call back.

Thursday morning I send Mr. X an email, explaining the time crunch and the imperative of filling in the pool. Nothing, no response by email. Nor call.

Friday morning, I call first thing and actually find Mr. X at his desk and taking phone calls. I asked if he got my email the previous day and he said he only saw it that day, Friday. Right. He said he’d been really busy but I gotta tell you, the woman to whom I spoke said long gone are the days when the inspectors are swamped with applications, so bottom line, Mr. X was giving me the old yada-yada. I said nothing, just said, sure, I can understand how busy you must be.

At first he insisted I haul out all the cement from the old pool but I explained to him (and he actually knew this from a previous application I had) that nothing can ever be built in the spot of the old pool. The pool was built in violation of today’s lot line laws so burying the cement would only cost me more money, not make any difference to another homeowner down the road. I said my intentions were to make it grass and or gardens.

Sweet talking worked but the whole time I was gritting my teeth that I had to play nice to a person who was hardly holding up his end by not returning my calls or email.

Fast forward to this past Wednesday, September 5. The work is done. The excavator paid. Now it’s time for the town to come and inspect the work to give me permit completion papers that I can then take to the assessor to remove the pool from the taxes.

Guess what? I called Wednesday morning. I called Wednesday afternoon. I called Thursday morning. I called Friday morning. Each time leaving a perfectly pleasant message that the work has been completed. Since there was no need for me to be home during the final inspection, I asked further if he had been at the house while I was out, and if yes, would he kindly call me and let me know.


Back to the title question. How long do I play nice?

Am I, as a woman, expected to be all sweet while being stepped on? I’ve dealt with this town for a long time, have had many permits before them for house additions and renovations and each time, have been treated by a team who take their sweet time. The one time I squawked to the Town Supervisor, I got “punished” by these guys, making me wait twice as long for the next project and making me jump through process hoops no others had to.

So, I need the inspector to sign off on the work. In my humble opinion, he’s lousy at his job. I don’t dare complain about him. It’s really quite awful. Any suggestions?

10 thoughts on “How Long Do I Play Nice?

  1. It’s raining so hard you might find yourself with a new swimming pool by days end.

    Dealing with towns is such a mess, man or woman. I do think we women are given more “a pat on the head” than man, inspectors/contractors assume we know nothing and ask to speak to the man.

    Keep at them. I vote you stay nice. Then move! Keep us posted. We’re playing Word-Up with the kids.

  2. It’s nice to have you back in the blogosphere with your stories EOS. No one can describe what happens when you fill in a swimming pool and need a piece of paper called a “permit” quite like you. I don’t understand why you have to get a permit to fill in a pool?

    When you squawked to the Town Supervisor and the guys “punished” you by making you wait twice as long for the next project, I think they’re doing the same thing to you this time.

    1. Rosie: good question. Most towns around me require a permit to sneeze. Take down trees. Build a fence. As it turns out, I actually didn’t need a permit to fill the pool because I was using fill from my own yard and not hauling in fill from outside. The “fill permit” was for users over X/yards fill. But I CHOSE the permit as documentation and proof, and for the next buyer of my house. It leaves a permanent paper trail that I filled the pool the correct way and with permission. I felt it was a save avenue and easy enough to accomplish. Plus, with no paper trail that the pool is gone, it would mean the assessor would have to come out and inspect for herself. I’m being nice and saving her the trip.

      The Town Supervisor has changed two times over since I squawked and the old inspector I complained about has retired. The man who is “in charge” now was performer the second banana, but it looks like he’s filling the shoes of his predecessor with the same thick molasses! I’ve never complained about the current inspector so I have to assume he’s merely lazy, not continuing the pay back.

  3. Moving won’t solve a thing. There’s likely not a small town on the plant that doesn’t have an employee or two who can’t be bothered to return phone calls. It’s the nature of the best.

    Catherine is right. Stay above the fray. Be polite and nice.

  4. Errrr….. An envelope with five non-sequential unmarked “C” notes could prompt action as early as 8:00 AM this coming Monday.


  5. One more nice call Monday morning (in case he had a few days off) then a nice call to the town supervisor on Tuesday morning if he hasn’t called you back by then.

    On your next project have the contractor pull the permits and don’t pay him until the job is done AND inspected. 😆

    Best of luck to you either way!

  6. In my experience, many rude, and/or indifferent, and/or arrogant behaviors by municipal officials–high and low–are actually driven by fear and defensiveness. Sometimes that’s because they are too pea-brained to understand the regs, but plenty of times it’s because the regs themselves are fuzzy and–equally importantly–applied in random ways. So, the person who wants to say “yes” to you might fear that he or she is missing some crucial detail, either in the regs themselves or–equally importantly–the political or interoffice consequences of saying “yes” when the boss, or the boss’ boss, or the local press, has some other agenda. So he or she will go into a defensive crouch … aka, not returning calls or emails, and acting haughty or indifferent if you do manage to get hold of them.

    Dreary, I know! But being a female who is disposed to be polite is not a disadvantage here. Persistent / polite / persistent / knowledgable / persistent / in command of the pertinent vocabulary / did I mention persistent? … you are well armed. Don’t assume that a blowhard alpha male would get better results. He wouldn’t;. he’d pretend he did, but unless he was Tony Soprano, he wouldn’t.

    Glad you’re back!

    1. Betty: and I’m glad YOU’RE back! I was going to email you to say I was blogging again, but I thought that seemed just a tad obnoxious/egotistic so I’m glad you found your way here without me.

      As for your comment about understanding the regulations: the first conversation I had with the Town was to your point: he said town code required me to haul out old cement but he was having a hard time finding that in the code. Obviously there was no such thing in the code.

      There are alot of good people who work for the Town, tirelessly, and who do return phone calls and who get alot of grief and sass from homeowners and contractors who expect employees to jump. I’m a civilized human being but I do expect a certain amount of job responsibility, the basic of returning a phone call. In my email to the inspector, I said by all means, if it was easier to email me a response than to call, that was fine as well. When two options are given, and neither is taken. Wrong.

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