The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Local News

December 8, 2012

Arbor Village had planned to go electric

Contractor advised owner against change

ANDERSON, Ind. — Last spring, the owner of Arbor Village Apartments was considering a plan to replace gas heat boilers in the buildings with an electric system that would have sent tenant electric bills soaring and severely taxed the complex’s aging electric service.

Steve Kreps of Best Mechanical LLC reviewed the plan for owner Tom Stanley and his maintenance staff and advised against it.

Because the complex is only supplied with 60-amp electrical service — standard in the mid-1960s when the 96-unit complex was built — it would be impossible to generate enough heat during cold weather to keep apartments warm, he told them in a letter dated May 14.

Moreover, the old electrical wires snaking through the walls didn’t have the capacity to support the additional electrical load, increasing the danger of fire.

“Attempting to do what you are proposing is incredibly risky and, without a licensed electrical contractor with permits in hand, is illegal,” Kreps warned them in the letter.

Even if the plan did work, he added, tenants could see their electric bills rise from an average of $32 per month to more than $200 in winter.

Stanley declined to comment on these or any other matters when reached by telephone on Friday.

In earlier stories, however, he sharply criticized Anderson city officials, who condemned the complex as uninhabitable on Wednesday, and ordered its evacuation after Vectren Energy discovered gas leaks in the basements of all five buildings.

Although the leaks were not major, a Vectren spokeswoman said, they could have led to more serious problems, which is why the utility decided to shut off the gas.

Kreps said in his evaluation that “the primary objective would be to immediately stop gas leaks in the laundry/boiler rooms. A fire and the potential boiler explosion thereafter could send debris three football fields in every direction.”

He advised Stanley to hire professionals to repair the internal gas lines and replace the aging boilers with new, high efficiency units.

In June, according to Building Commissioner Frank Owens, city inspectors learned boilers were being removed from some of the building units and that Arbor Village maintenance staff was making electrical changes without electrical permits. A verbal stop-work order was issued.

Kreps came into the picture again in late September when Best Mechanical submitted a bid to Stanley for $9,507 to restore the heat and make code-compliant repairs to 12 units at Arbor Village.

Verbally and through a text message, Stanley authorized the work and promised Kreps a check for $7,130.25, or 75 percent of the total cost, up front, Kreps said.

Based on those promises, he obtained permits from the Department of Municipal Development and began the work.

By October 18, however, no check had arrived and he sent Stanley a letter outlining his concerns, one of which was that permits are not transferable and he would need to let the city know his firm would not be calling for inspections.

Three days later, Kreps sent Stanley another letter. He’d driven by Arbor Village and discovered another company — Wells Boiler Works Inc., of Alexandria — doing the work he’d been hired to do.

“This is the first time in 28 years we have been contracted, purchased permits (and) not been paid, while someone else is doing the work,” Kreps wrote.

David Johnson, who runs Wells, said his experience with Stanley and Arbor Village was much the same as Kreps’. He did get paid some money, however.

Johnson said he also obtained permits, installed a boiler, and had it inspected by the city. During the job,  inspectors indicated leaks in some water pipes on a boiler should be fixed. They also wanted liners installed in chimneys as a safety precaution.

Johnson said he attempted to communicate this information to Stanley and his staff, but they stopped responding to his emails and telephone calls.

On Tuesday, Kreps sent Stanley another email. Records on file with the Madison County Auditor show that Arbor Village has an unpaid property tax bill of more than $39,000.

It was news that did not inspire confidence, Kreps said.

Stanley’s response, evidently sent from his iPhone, according to a copy of the exchange Kreps shared with The Herald Bulletin, was an angry one.

“I am absolutely sick of you in our business,” Stanley wrote. “File your lawsuit and have fun. I’m done with you and your crazy antics.”

He added that Arbor Village had always made good on its obligations, and he promised to pay Kreps when money became available.

Later that day, Vectren engineers arrived to inspect gas mains and confirmed leaks underneath a building.

By 8:45, the city had ordered the evacuation of three buildings, and condemned the entire complex the next day.

Find Stu Hirsch on Facebook and @StuHirsch on Twitter, or call 640-4861.

Text Only
Local News
  • news_indfloods.jpg County escapes major storm damage

    Despite strong winds and heavy storms Thursday night, Madison County property escaped relatively unscathed. While downed tree limbs and power lines led to a power outage for about 2,000 residences in Anderson, there were no reports of structure damage in the county.

    August 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS -  HB0823 - Fire-Rozelle Johnson - JC 28a.jpg Lightning might have caused Anderson funeral home fire

    A lightning strike is suspected of starting a fire at Rozelle-Johnson Funeral Services, Ind. 32 and Rangeline Road, early Friday morning.

    August 22, 2014 3 Photos

  • Teen arrested in alleged robbery, battery of teen girl A teen faces felony charges after allegedly luring and driving another girl out to a county road, robbing the girl at knifepoint and leaving the girl out on the road at night.

    August 22, 2014

  • ACS incumbents facing election challenge Most incumbents seeking re-election to various school boards in Madison County will be facing challengers in the November 4 general election.

    August 22, 2014

  • Reservoir could be 'needed shot in the arm'

    The proposed Mounds Lake Reservoir is being described as the needed shot in the arm that would put Anderson back on the map.

    August 23, 2014

  • SWAT Challenge to move to Camp Atterbury The 13th Annual Indiana SWAT Challenge will again be hosted by the Delaware County Sheriff's Office, but this year will move to a larger venue.

    August 22, 2014

  • VanNess, William mug Local Briefs: Aug. 23 A compilation of news items of local and statewide interest as published in the Saturday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    August 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Coats: Obamacare won't be repealed U.S. Sen. Dan Coats said the Affordable Care Act will not be repealed and that Congress needs to focus on many modifications to the law affecting health care in America.

    August 22, 2014

  • Anderson cop Richardson loses rank Seven months after Anderson Police officer Bill Richardson was arrested in January but not criminally charged, the department has disciplined the officer.

    August 22, 2014

  • Local Briefs: Aug. 22

    A compilation of news items of local and state interest as published in the Friday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    August 22, 2014

August Staff Photos

Buy and browse more photos from The Herald Bulletin

More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
Auto Industry Book
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide