A View From The Right: Amnesty - Let’s Have a Town Hall Meeting to answer ALL the questions

A presentation and Q&A session, as a solution to address a problem conveyed by the Chamber of Commerce because many property owners don't know if they need Amnesty or not.

Hello Port Chester Residents,

Let’s Have a Town Hall Meeting on Amnesty!

That was the solution to a problem conveyed to me at a chance meeting in Village Hall this week with Ken Manning, President of the Port Chester – Rye Brook – Rye Town Chamber of Commerce. Ken told me that many home and commercial property owners in Port Chester don’t understand what Amnesty is or whether they need it.

What is Amnesty?

The Port Chester Board of Trustees approved an Amnesty Program, with a registration period effective October 1st through December 31st, 2012, to help ALL property owners obtain new valid, durable and transferable Certificates of Occupancy for their real property.

Who needs Amnesty?

In my respectful opinion, everyone not only needs Amnesty, but deserves the Piece of Mind knowing that when the day comes they want to either refinance or sell their property, residential or commercial, that this program will have pre-cleared the way for a smooth and efficient transfer of Title to the next owner.

Why a Town Hall Meeting?

When I brought in Village Manager Chris Steers, along with Ken Manning to help fill this void in getting our message distributed, it became quickly apparent to all three of us that a Town Hall Meeting would be perfect to get the message out to all property owners!

What is this Town Hall Meeting going to consist of?

For the last six weeks, Village Manager Chris Steers, Building & Code Department Head Peter Miley, Village Attorney Anthony Cerreto and I have been meeting with civic groups, groups of real estate brokers and the Port Chester Bar Association (attorneys) to explain the problems and the applicable pre-existing Codes from both the State and the Village that apply to the vast amount of issues here in Port Chester.

The four of us will be on hand to not only answer all the general questions, but the individual questions that you may have as well, one on one with you! This is your opportunity to see how we have cut the fees and red tape for searches and issuing permits regardless if you have none, just one, ten or more open permits, so you can close them all for the reduced cost of just one new one.

When and where is this Town Hall Meeting?

The Port Chester Senior Center

222 Grace Church Street

November 28th, 2012 At 7 PM


We hope to see everyone there. Applications for Amnesty will be available as well.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Robski48 November 16, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Bart, I tend to think that this wasn't a error as it has been the normal course of business. One must only look at the fact that houses across many, many decades, dating back to the twenties have this same problem. I believe there is some negligence on the part of the village. Only a judge will decide that when or if the village gets sued. Win or lose in court, the village is still the loser. If you win, you need to still have to pay to defend yourselfs. God only knows what it will cost if you lose. Regarding the depressed values, I would love to here from some residents that have gone though this already. I do remember lawyer vitigliano at a zoning meeting stating a client, who was selling on Robert or Shelley Ave, had to lower their accepted offer to keep the sale as they "corrected" what the village created.
Robski48 November 16, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Bart, Any luck on the number of amnesty applications. I know one call by a trustee to the building department should get the answer.
Bart Didden November 16, 2012 at 10:35 PM
@ chrissy, two more excerpts Port Chester off King St. R7 Zone - single family - now I will give you this much, it does not say completion into what, but the Realtor does not rule out more bedrooms, or that it can just be utility space such as storage - "The final level is the large unfinished basement with laundry and wonderful potential for future completion." This one is in Rye Brook, but it shows the tendency is not limited to Port Chester - Remarks - Single family-perfect as an In-Law Set Up with Multi-Family privacy & space on all 3 levels. Upstairs & downstairs offer complete privacy BOTH having bathrooms, bedroom & kitchenette area. Come on chrissy, there is no such thing in the state building code for "In-Law Set Up" and this is another single family zone.
FShort November 16, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Does turning a blind eye for two decades count as "purposefully"?
chrissy hazleton November 16, 2012 at 10:42 PM
@Bart- I agree with u on misrepresentations, and I do not misrepresent my listings, and I can only control how I run my business, however that was not what my initial post was about. I simply stated My experience with over 15 homeowners this past Sping and how they're being adversely affected when the town all of a sudden holds them responsible for permits they were never aware were open, nor did they open. For example, I had customers who bought a house 10 years ago, refinanced several times and only when we went to sell did we find out the house from 1937 never had a final co. They had to spend a significant amount of money to address this issue that never should have been theirs from the get go, it should have come up in title 10 years prior, or in the numerous years in which they refinanced and this are the real stories from real sales. I agree if a seller has done something illegally then they should have to fix it, but many many sellers are being forced to deal with problems well before their ownership at a significant cost. So again, I ask that you answer the real issues I have posed twice now, not skirt the issues or place blame on the real estate community when we all know that for many years port Chester did not do their jobs in protecting buyers from mis representations in title bc of corruption at the Bldg. Dept.
Bart Didden November 16, 2012 at 10:52 PM
@ Robski48, The Village did not create this as you state, in a vacuum. Think about this, did the home owner play any part? What is the home owner asked a Village employee if he needed a permit and was told, "no, don't worry about it"? Is it unreasonable that maybe, just maybe the home owner knew that it was not right but was willing to move forward and accept the benefit? Is the home owner innocent in this scenario? I am not sure but I am asking. Think about this, what if there was a contractor that did the asking? Now they should know what the Law is, but did they benefit? This is the bigger picture to this whole thing, the Village was not on both sides of the transaction. I have compassion for the property owner and that is why I fought for the Amnesty Law, why I believe in it and why I am here taking punches from chrissy, Concerned Homeowner and FShort to name a few. More will come out tonight and post I am sure. I also agree it's not fair, nothing is fair, life is not fair and its not fair to the person that is going to buy a house tomorrow if we kick the can down the road today. I am sorry, but at least you can say that you know how one of your elected officials thinks. Maybe that is fair, or at least should be expected.
Aidan November 16, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Bart, can't you post a facsimile? Lots are curious. I've refinanced twice in the last two years because of tumbling rates ... the last just two weeks ago ... and I've never seen a CO in any docs. Btw, my refi sailed thru in a matter of a few weeks ... am I to assume anything?
Bart Didden November 16, 2012 at 11:02 PM
@ chrissy, not to get into specifics, but it was because of the stories we heard last winter and spring that resulted in this Amnesty Law. We did and do hear the issues but no government moves fast enough, we only try to do our best. I asked Robski48 (who, like many in this forum) is fun to debate issues with when they stay civil. I think he asked if it was fair, I responded by asking is it fair to ignore or kick the can (issue) down the road today when tomorrows buyer will get today's pain after they buy? I don't wish these issues on anybody, but to let them continue to the next owner does what? Kick the can just that much more? Hey, who knows, maybe some one will make this a campaign issue for the next election and we can get officials like those of many years ago. Again! lol
Bart Didden November 16, 2012 at 11:13 PM
@ Aidan, I have just asked for one, but I remain concerned. A property owner may have the correct "form" but it may not have had the correct or through search done behind it. About a year ago we started scanning all building and code documents. Our searches are getting faster and faster each month and in another 6 months it will be perfect and complete each and every time, or as close to that as governmental(y) possible (lol) I will say this, going into Amnesty for $70.00 with it better than having nothing, but only a search through the Amnesty program will be fool proof. in my opinion.
Bart Didden November 16, 2012 at 11:15 PM
@ Robski48, I did not get to it today. But I will
Aidan November 17, 2012 at 12:42 AM
I understand. However, "but it may not have had the correct or thorough search done behind it." ... isn't that then the responsibility of the title company? Maybe that's where the solution resides. Isn't that their obligation? To makes certain that a property is code correct?
JJ November 17, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Bart, You have most certainly kicked the hornet's nest here! All good; it's about time PC had a clear plan in place. Over the last 25 years PC has been ruined with the lack of Village leadership and "looking the other way" regarding homes and the maintenance of same. Unfortunately those PC Officials most responsible for this fiasco have either retired, have other jobs within the community, moved to other states or have passed away (RIP). Twenty five years is a long time and the "living" ones are hoping people have forgotten their roles, votes and lack of direction. The burden to fix it falls on people like you and the homeowners now. I wish you well.
FShort November 17, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Bart, although I dont agree with most of what you've said here, I do give you credit for at least being here and discussing the issues with us. More than we can say for our Mayor. But still, none of this helps me get my house closed in the next 3 weeks before my buyers back out.
Interested Reader November 17, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Bart, you hit the point right on the head when you say the Village can not now, and should have never, let this situation get to the point that it has. We MUST face the issue head on and make all necessary corrections. Yes, this is going to hurt everyone, some more than others, and my heart goes out to those people. The rebuilding of the Department responsible was the most important first step, this program is really the best next step forward. I had hoped the properties that have been confirmed as SINGLE FAMILY would have the most benefits from the program and be placed first in line for any needs they may have. Let those properties that have existed as multi-family illegally take the biggest hit, unless of course they will agree to return those properties back to single family immediately and forever. I am shocked that we are so willing to accept the fact that persons responsible have not been brought to justice. I for one want answers and I am hoping many other will agree. I am asking you and the Board to lead that charge to ensure this can NEVER happen again.
Silvio V. Buccieri November 17, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Interested Reader,,,, all we are asking, what took so long to go after the law breakers, and now we punish the legal ones..code inforecment has been here for almost three years. what have they done? if any. then prove it to me that something is being done. all we are asking for fairness.. and Bart keep up the good work....
Bart Didden November 17, 2012 at 01:59 PM
@ FShort, I assume you have been working with the Building Department and they are helping you. If not you should e-mail me at my village e-mail address and I will help you where ever possible. You can get my address at portchesterny.com
Interested Reader November 17, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Silvio, I don't think we have gone after the public officials who are responsible, have we? I agree them before the SINGLE FAMILY homeowner.
Interested Reader November 17, 2012 at 02:09 PM
How about going after the assets of those responsible to help buy down the costs that everyone is incurring.
Robski48 November 17, 2012 at 02:29 PM
My only problem with the program is this. We are worried about single family homes and their variances and co's, when the real problem is the overcrowding. Lets face it, if you have a overcrowded home, a home with illegal apartments, you are not going to volunteer to sign up for this program. I would rather not worry about the 6 inch variance the village is breaking chops over or the shed that was put up for someone's tools. I would rather throw our resources into fighting the overcrowding. That's how we reduce the class size, and ultimately our taxes, as school taxes are the biggest part of your tax bill. If we get what Steers predicted of 500 applications, or lets say 250 for argument saks, how is this building department going to handle overcrowding and illegal apartments. This program is going to show fancy numbers when Steers shows his graphs at the meetings and the board pats him on the back. But reality is that the real numbers aren't on his graphs, the amount of illegal apartments eliminated. BTW, when he leaves in two years, we will be holding the bag with the mess he created with the law abiding citizens and the slumlords will be operating as usual.
Robski48 November 17, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Just did a little research on lohud dot com (database housing sales) and the nys department of state business search. On January 25, 19 houses of Great American were transferred in ownership after a early January auction. How did these houses pass the building department stringent C of O and variance clamp down when they are the biggest abuser of overcrowding and illegal apartments? They had to do a title search unless the same people or friends who trust them bought the houses. This is the stuff the building department should be focusing their time on as this is how you elimate over crowding and illegal apartments. Then you will see a decline in your taxes and the fancy numbers in Steers graphs at board meetings. Then the board can pat him on the back.
Interested Reader November 17, 2012 at 03:26 PM
@Robski48, did all 19 homes transfer to the same buyer? That would be interesting.
FShort November 17, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Thanks, I am working with the building department and will keep you posted if I run into any issues.
Robski48 November 17, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Yes. They went from Great American to a lawyer,who held them to auction, then to the same company.
Silvio V. Buccieri November 17, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Once again I asking to the code inforcement!! show me what you did on paper,or computer, or something that show me what you did?? there are more people then ever befor, liveing on a street next to mine. I say again nothing has changed, its the same good old boys days.. look around, you have to be blind not see it. pissed off tax payer......
Bart Didden November 17, 2012 at 04:16 PM
General response about the Great American homes - 1) if they transferred to new owners who did not borrow money from the banks, and the Title company was willing to insure them, there is nothing to stop it, unless - 2) I tried to get a Law passed here in Port Chester that every sale needed an inspection and an updated C O, Mayor Pilla and others filibustered the proposal and many here on my Patch blog did not like that idea. So it failed.
JJ November 17, 2012 at 04:42 PM
All good comments and I hope that some Law Enforcement Officials are reading this blog. Or I at least hope some folks write or call HUD with their concerns at: MIRZA ORRIOLS Deputy Regional Administrator New York Regional Office Jacob K. Javits Federal Building 26 Federal Plaza Suite 3541 New York, NY 10278-0068 (212) 264-8000 or Fax (212) 264-0246 Keep up the good work Bart!
JJ November 17, 2012 at 04:45 PM
BTW, if you really have information on this fiasco; here's the number for the local FBI Office in White Plains, NY (845) 989-6000
Bart Didden November 23, 2012 at 08:16 PM
ATTENTION - DATE CHANGE One day earlier November 27th 7pm 222 Grace Church St - Senior Center
FJT December 02, 2012 at 04:42 AM
I saw the meeting on TV today. It looked poorly attended (maybe 20 people), considering about 6,000 property owners are affected by the revocation of their COs and the offer of amnesty. No doubt, the nullification of long-standing COs will be the "gift that keeps on giving" for years to come in the form of hundreds if not thousands of owners who one by one come to the realization that -- despite their having believed that they had bought their properties under proper due diligence by their attorneys, realtors, bankers and title companies -- they're now somehow guilty of not having done enough due diligence. That aside, most people I speak with are either only vaguely aware of the need to get new COs if they're to ever sell or refinance their properties, or they're completely unaware it. Property owners who played by the rules are being punished while those responsible for corruption -- the guilty ones -- walk free and collect their pensions. As weeks and months pass, and more property owners wake up to their fate, I imagine things will become far more interesting. Like Bart I'm not a lawyer, but unlike Bart I can't see how the blanket nullification of COs is fair or legal to begin with. Maybe an attorney with no axe to grind would like to weigh in here.
Bart Didden December 03, 2012 at 08:02 PM
There were upwards of 85 attendees


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »