No vote means Gap keeps building inspector

Published 12:32 pm Friday, June 10, 2022

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The firing of Cumberland Gap building inspector Don Bryant has become null-and-void, for the time being anyway. Town Mayor Neal Pucciarelli said during an interview that he has put in a call to MTAS (Municipal Technical Advisory Service) to see just how to proceed with the issue.

Adhering to procedure, Pucciarelli says he asked for and received a motion during the June 6 meeting of the Board of Mayor & Aldermen allowing the six-member panel to officially ratify the decision. When it came time for a second to the motion, all was quiet, effectively killing the vote.

“I had documentation that basically showed that Mr. Bryant was negligent in his performance as our building inspector. I felt like he wasn’t doing his job in a manner that is expected by code,” said Pucciarelli, adding that he had begun in January to compile complaints brought to him and directed at the building inspector.

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Pucciarelli says that during the meeting Bryant questioned why he was not given the opportunity to go before the Board of Appeals to address any concerns about his work.

“The Board of Appeals is for building issues,” said Pucciarelli. “This was a personnel matter and it says in our codes that I am responsible for all employees. He is an employee of the city. He gets a tax form like everybody else. He says he’s never had a raise. Well, he got a $3,000 COVID stipend as did all our other employees.”

Bryant adamantly denied during an interview that he is a town employee.

“I receive no benefits. I don’t get vacation days and I’ve not had a raise like the other employees. I’m on an as-needed, paid by inspection basis.

“According to the town ordinances, I answer to the Planning & Zoning and the Board of Appeals if there’s a question,” said Bryant.

He says Pucciarelli did not follow any of the procedures that are supposed to be taken.

“I’ve had no opportunity to answer any of the charges before a work session. I’ve had no reprimands,” said Bryant.

He questioned one of the complaints included in the mayor’s documentation. Bryant says the man who lodged the complaint did an apparent 180 degree turn, praising him during the business’s grand opening only to submit a two-page complaint just two weeks later.

“It doesn’t make sense,” said Bryant.

Pucciarelli said during the interview that he was concerned about Bryant’s lack of tangible records detailing every inspection.

Bryant says the jobs he inspects are not so large that paper or digital paperwork would be necessary.

“There’re no multiple inspectors. It’s only me. So, I have no problem keeping up with what’s going on. I never have written anything down,” said Bryant.

He estimated he has completed approximately 45 inspections from three major projects during the course of the last 18 months.

Bryant says he was on-site nearly every day of each project. He was asked if, moving forward, he would consider keeping a paper or digital record of the projects.

“We’re supposed to have a work session on that so that I can explain what I do and how I’ve been doing it. There may be changes,” said Bryant.

Meanwhile, Pucciarelli will be gathering recommendations from MTAS and other state agencies in time for the July meeting of the Board of Mayor & Aldermen.