The new , which was positively recommended by the Port Chester Planning Commission, is now working its way through the . An Amnesty Program is also in the works to give an incentive for people in violation of village zoning codes. This program will allow fees and penalties to be reduced or waived in return for coming forward and working with the village.
In order to work in its desired fashion, the Comprehensive Plan will be coupled with a number of zoning changes. Some of the areas currently listed for multi-family houses will be rezoned as single family. This has many in Port Chester concerned.
Any multi-family homes in these rezoning areas that are legal multi-family structures will be allowed to continue their status despite the zone change. They will be recognized as “legal non-conforming” houses.
There are many homes in Port Chester that have been added on to over the years or have had their structures tweaked to accommodate more residents. Some of these updates have been done legally, others have not.
Along with the new Comprehensive Plan and zoning amendments, there will be stricter enforcement of the village’s zoning code enforcement.
“We brought in (Code Enforcement Director Christopher Steers) three years ago to tackle code enforcement,” said Mayor Dennis Pilla. “Code enforcement has been such an issue of trouble and is something that has been long neglected in Port Chester, from what I can tell, for decades. We need a soft landing for some. An amnesty program of preexisting structures can provide that.”
The amnesty program would give incentives for people who may currently be in violation of zoning codes to come forward and proactively work with the village to become a conforming residence.
The proposed amnesty program includes the following:
- All administrative fees for construction activities without a building permit (i.e. fee of $250 or three times the permit fee) are hereby waived
- For work completed prior to the effective date of the 1975 Zoning Regulation:
- Building permit fees shall be reduced by 50 percent. Zoning application fees shall be waived.
- Planning application fees may be waived or reduced by 50 percent depending upon the nature of the application at the discretion of the Village Manager or his designee.
- This shall apply to all building, planning, and zoning applications submitted in conjunction with and under the auspices of the Permit Amnesty program within the Amnesty Period intended to correct the targeted violations.
“Our residents and property owners have to become partners with us in solving the problem. We are willing to give in if they are willing to give in.”
Voluntary participation is the core idea of the Amnesty Program. Any applicants and/or their properties that have been cited for or are currently under enforcement action are not eligible for the Amnesty Program.
“So in other words, if we got you it’s too late,” said Pilla.
The proposed Amnesty Period is from Sept. 4, 2012 – March 29, 2013. However, board members disagreed on the length of the Amnesty period. Mayor Pilla stated that it could take time for the word to get around and for people to respond while Trustee Brakewood wondered why it would take a person so long to decide if they would take advantage of the program.
No time frame or length of the Amnesty Period has been decided yet.