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June 28, 2013

City accepts deeds to condemned buildings

Contractor in uproar over bid qualifications

Live Oak — The Live Oak Community Redevelopment Agency held its regular monthly meeting Tuesday night followed by a brief Live Oak City Council meeting to officially accept the deeds of the condemned buildings in downtown Live Oak and to award a bid to a general contractor for demolition services.

The board voted 5-0 to accept the deeds from John Chambliss and John Robinson, owners of the condemned buildings, contingent they provide the funds from their respective insurance companies for demolition services.

The two buildings located at the intersection of West Howard Street and Pine Avenue have been condemned by the city’s building officials since TS Debby in late June 2012 when a 160-foot sinkhole formed partially underneath them.

City Clerk John Gill said both property owners have signed an agreement to convey land. Gill said he is searching for the quickest route to acquire the property and said the city should begin the closing process within the coming days.

“We can’t do anything (demolition) until the city takes ownership,” Gill said.

In an effort to expedite the process, the city advertised for bids for demolition services. Statewide Concrete LLC was the lowest bidder, offering their services for $34,499. However, there was much discussion to determine if they were qualified for the job.

When bids were placed, Jason Padgett, co-owner of Statewide Concrete LLC had not obtained a general contractor’s license, according to officials.

“When it was put before me that I needed a general contractor’s license, I was in the process of having it completed. I completed it (Monday),” Padgett said. 
At the time of placing the bid, the other business Padgett co-owns, Osprey Contractor’s, was qualified having a license. However, that is not the business Padgett used to place the bid.

Among the confusion, board members turned to Attorney Lucas Taylor for guidance.

“When I talked to Mr. (Live Oak Attorney Erny) Sellers today about this matter, he told me there was a sufficient relationship between the two businesses. Mr. Sellers said if you didn’t go with the lowest, and presumed to be the best offer, there would need to be a sufficient amount of evidence on the record to state why not (going with the lowest bidder).”

According to City Building Official Roy Rogers, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation told him on the phone Tuesday Padgett was not qualified under Statewide Concrete to perform demolition services.

“If the state recognizes it as one entity, then it’s safe,” Taylor said.

According to Rogers, there is no link since Osprey Construction is registered to Adam Brang of Gainesville. Rogers said the only document providing a link between the two companies is a fictitious name, “Statewide Concrete and Masonry, LLC doing business as Osprey Constructors, LLC.”

In an effort to resolve the issue, Chairman Adam Prins recessed the meeting to get Public Works Director Brent Whitman, who was attending a conference in South Florida, on the line via conference call.

Prins then called the meeting back in session and asked Whitman to state why he did not recommend Statewide Concrete.

“They do not have a contractor license under that name,” Whitman said.

Prins asked Whitman if it stated in the bid that a general contractor’s license was required.

“In the pre-bid meeting, there was no discussion about having a general contractor’s license. There was a place on the form for them to place their license number,” Whitman said. “It’s irrelevant to what we require, we have to follow the state’s requirements. It’s just like having a driver license. We don’t ask if you have one, we assume that you do if you’re placing a bid.”

Since Whitman was unable to attend the meeting, he provided each councilor with a written statement regarding the contractors.

“No contractor license record can be found pertaining to the low bidder, Statewide Concrete, LLC. According to Roy Rogers, recent changes in state building code require a license for demolition,” Whitman wrote.

In the statement, Whitman recommended Cross Environmental as the second lowest and best bidder based on qualifications, offering their services for $37,500.

“In this matter, the council can do what they want to do,” Taylor said.

Taylor said there was sufficient evidence to award or deny the bid to Statewide Concrete, LLC.

Prins stated he was concerned with moving forward with Statewide that could bring about legal issues.

The board voted 5-0 to award the bid to Cross Environmental. 
A demolition date will be announced once the city receives ownership.

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