Middlefield’s building official, Robert M. Meyers, is coming under renewed fire from a former client who is questioning Meyers’ ability to serve the town and urging Middlefield leaders to investigate his background.
“If your town values its residents, its reputation and wants to protect itself, I suggest you closely examine Robert M. Meyers’ past and qualifications to be a public official representing Middlefield,” Joseph M. Cohen, of Chester, said in a recent letter to the Board of Selectmen.
Cohen, who is suing Meyers on accusations the former general contractor breached a contract with Cohen, said he plans to attend the selectmen’s meeting tonight to air his allegations against Meyers, who lives in East Haddam and formerly owned a business there.
The board meets at 7 p.m., in the Community Center on Main Street. You can view the agenda, as well Cohen’s letter, above.
Meyers today said he has seen Cohen's letter and has sent a copy of it to his attorney for possible action against his former client. He said Cohen's actions indicate that Cohen is on a personal vendetta against him and that his accusations are baseless.
"In no way is this related to my job as a building official," Meyers said. "He is clearly on some kind of a vendetta to try and hurt me."
Meyers' lawyer, Michael F. Dowley, said Cohen's attempt to bring the town into the legal dispute is inappropriate.
"The matter should be dealt with in the courts."
First Selectman Jon Brayshaw today said Cohen’s letter is not on the board’s agenda, but Cohen can address the board during the public comment portion of the meeting.
He said the selectmen are satisfied with Meyers’ work with the town and believes Cohen’s issues are related solely to his ongoing litigation with Meyers.
Meyers this morning could not be reached for comment.
Earlier this year the building official paid a $250 fine to the state’s Department of Consumer Protection in connection with allegations Cohen raised with the state that Meyers failed to follow certain consumer protection laws when he negotiated and later signed a contract to build a home for Cohen.
Meyers paid the fine “for offering to perform or performing new home construction work and not being in compliance with Sec. 20-417d” of the state’s New Home Construction Act, according to a document Meyers signed Sept. 19 with the consumer protection department. Under the terms of the document, called an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, the former home builder agreed to follow state consumer protection laws but did not admit that he violated any of them.
In the lawsuit he filed Cohen has alleged that in the fall of 2009 Meyers began contract negotiations with him to build a house but later learned that Meyers at the time of those negotiations wasn’t registered with the state or insured as a new home builder. He says Meyers obtained his state-required registration as a home builder just days before signing the contract in the summer of 2010.
In addition, Cohen alleges that Meyers undertook work at the home site without a town building permit and refused to meet with local building officials to discuss the problem. After he fired Meyers in late 2010, Cohen says in his lawsuit, Meyers refused to return a $53,500 deposit Cohen had given him.
Meyers operated a home building business called Robert M. Meyers Inc. based out of his home in East Haddam. His state registration as a home builder has since lapsed.
Meyers, Cohen alleges in the lawsuit, committed fraud and violated the state’s Unfair Trade Practices Act.
In his letter to the Middlefield selectmen, Cohen renews many of the allegations he made in his lawsuit and urges the selectmen to review Meyers’ background, saying his “competence and integrity are highly questionable.”