The Port Chester Board of Trustees unanimously agreed they
would like to extend the village’s building Permit Amnesty Program until May
31, 2016 at this week’s board meeting. If approved officially approved by the
Planning Commission and after a public hearing, this would be the third extension
to the program, issued because the short-staffed building department and code
enforcement departments are struggling to process the hundreds of requests
they’ve received over the last year. Also in an effort to better manage the program, the Building Department has recently hired part time employees.
The Amnesty program was established in 2012 to help provide relief to people with code violations who would have faced fines if not in the program. Any homeowner without prior violations can apply for amnesty, which helps them avoid fines and violation summons. The board has already extended the deadline to apply to the program from Dec. 31, 2012 to April 31, 2013 and then to Oct. 31, 2013.
At their last meeting, the Planning Commission originally proposed an extension only until Sept. 30, 2014, but Village Manger Chris Steers and trustees all agreed more time would be better for residents and staff.
“I wanted it to be five years, but at least if we do two it will give the building department more time,” said Trustee Gene Ceccarelli.
The Planning Commission and the Board must approve the extension and then hold a public hearing on it before an amendment to a local law officially extending the program can be approved.
The department has received about 480 applications and has processed about 10 percent of them since the start of the program.
Residents have accused the program of helping slum-lords and scofflaws and punishing law-abiding residents who have invalid building documents because of former village staff that did not follow local or state permit laws.
Steers says that anyone who is opposed to the program does not fully understand it or has done work without permits and know they are going to "get caught." In this presentation, he explains how the Amnesty program can save building owners hundreds and thousands of dollars under certain circumstances.
Read more about Port Chester Code Enforcement and Amnesty in this Patch article, “This is What Your Certificate of Occupancy Should Look Like.”