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Chesapeake, Virginia Developer Dilip Patel Ordered to Tear Out
Chinese Made Drywall From Near Complete Comfort Inn & Suites

By Mike Saewitz, The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Va.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jul. 8, 2009--CHESAPEAKE -- The Chesapeake Board of Building Code Appeals on Tuesday ordered a developer to remove drywall made in China from a hotel that was on the verge of opening its doors.

After the panel announced its decision, developer Dilip Patel said he wonders why the city hadn't taken action against other builders when the drywall has been used in other projects in Chesapeake.

"I feel that I was singled out," Patel said. "Why haven't they gone after anyone else?"

Some homeowners claim the drywall emits a sulfur-based gas that causes minor respiratory problems and corrodes electrical systems.

Before he was issued a building code violation in May, Patel and his company had been working with a city task force to move along the building of the Comfort Inn & Suites near the corner of South Military Highway and North George Washington Highway.

He said the opening will be delayed by at least six months while the drywall is removed from the already completed second and third floors.

Patel's attorney, James T. Zelloe said the hotel only has about 100 or 200 sheets of the drywall. It came from Norfolk-based Venture Supply Inc., which sold the China-made drywall to Hampton Roads builders and installers between March 2006 and 2008.

At least 50 Chesapeake homes are suspected of having the drywall. Norfolk officials have made it illegal to use it in any new construction or renovations.

"He's the only one we've seen installing it," said Robert R. Smalley, the Chesapeake's code compliance manager. "We had no idea until we ran into this that it was still being used."

The city alleged that using the drywall violated building codes. Patel appealed. On Tuesday, a five-member board voted unanimously to deny the appeal.

"I don't think they gave us enough data or information to override the codes and our concern for public health," said the board's chairman, Stephens Johnson.

Mike Saewitz, (757) 222-5207, mike.saewitz@pilotonline.com

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To see more of the The Virginian-Pilot, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.pilotonline.com.

Copyright (c) 2009, The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Va.

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