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Use of Chinese Drywall in Virginia Hotel Project Prompts Criminal Summons

Jun 2, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

A  Virginia developer has been issued a criminal summons by the city of Chesapeake, Virginia for using Chinese drywall in a hotel under construction. According to PilotOnline, city officials say that the Chinese drywall was used in the construction of two floors of the Comfort Inn and Suites being built in the 3300 block of S. Military Highway in Chesapeake.

Virginia is just one of at least 16 states where homeowners have complained about Chinese drywall that fills homes with a putrid, “rotten-eggs” odor, causes metals to corrode, and leads to sinus and respiratory problems in people living with the material. The Virginia based company, Venture Supply, has said it imported 100,000 sheets of China-made drywall between March 2006 and December 2008.  According to PilotOnline.com, drywall-related problems  have been reported in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg and northeastern North Carolina.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released results of tests it conducted that compared Chinese drywall to American-made material. The tests found sulfur and two organic compounds associated with acrylic paint in the Chinese drywall that were not present in the American wallboard. The agency said more testing is needed to determine if any of the compounds found in the Chinese drywall are responsible for problems reported by homeowners.

Venture Supply sold some of the drywall for the Chesapeake Comfort Inn project, but could not say when or how much it had supplied, PilotOnline.com said.  The city of Chesapeake discovered Chinese drywall was being used in the building during a March inspection.   City officials told PilotOnline.com that this appears to be the first time  Chinese drywall was discovered during the construction of a commercial project in the area.

On May 5, developer Dilip Patel was served with a formal notice of violation that said the Chinese drywall was not approved for use.  He was given either 30 days to remove the material, or have an architect provide product testing information showing the drywall to be safe, PilotOnline.com said.  The notice of violation was followed by a criminal summons for a building code violation on May 14.

According to PilotOnline, the criminal complaint could result in a misdemeanor charge if the drywall is not removed, or test results are not provided.  A June 24 court date has been set in the case.

Recently we reported that both Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Virginia had passed ordinances banning the use of Chinese.  However, according to PilotOnline, Chesapeake has no such ordinance.  But the city is  citing a letter from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development that informed officials they have the authority to disallow the use of non listed or non certified drywall products in its bid to force the material's removal.   


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