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TV Host Denies He Built Penthouse Without Proper City Permits

March 13, 1987 GMT

BOSTON (AP) _ Bob Vila, host of public television’s ″This Old House″ home restoration show, has denied reports that he built a penthouse apartment in Boston’s Back Bay section without the proper city permits.

The Boston Herald reported Tuesday that the 20-by-20-foot penthouse apartment and deck, built in 1979 by Vila before he joined the program and sold the same year to Cecilia Lehar, has been ordered torn down by the city.

In a statement Thursday from Vila, read by the show’s publicist, Daphne Noyes, he said, ″With regard to the Herald editorial writer’s contention that this construction was undertaken without the proper permits, this simply is not true.

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″I have never remodeled any building without first obtaining the necessary permits. On this job, a building permit was obtained and plans - including those for the rooftop structure - were submitted.

″These plans bear the stamp of the Back Bay Architectural Commission, indicating that their review of the structure was not necessary under the law then in existence.″

According to the Herald, documents filed with the commission show Vila was granted a Building Department permit to renovate the building into four apartments. In July 1979, Vila applied for permission to amend his original plans to include a ″roof penthouse-storage area.″

According to the files, the newspaper said, the application to amend was stamped ″abandoned,″ meaning either Vila or the department failed to follow up and no permit was issued.

Ms. Lehar, who has until March 25 to remove the penthouse, has appealed the architectural commission’s order to Suffolk Superior Court. Her attorney, Elton Watkins III, said no suits have been filed against Vila, but he is exploring ways to protect his client’s interests.

Vila, who said the construction of the penthouse was independent of his TV program, said he was not aware of any pending lawsuit or commission proceedings against him in the matter.