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Port Chester Looks to Formally Extend its Permit Amnesty Program

Effort to resolve longstanding problems in village was originally due to expire Dec. 31, 2012.

The Port Chester Village Board of Trustees is set tonight to look at formally extending its village building permit amnesty program, which was initially set to expire Dec. 31.

Trustees have already agreed to extend the amnesty effort, but are scheduled to formally take it up in a public hearing at tonight's board meeting, set for 7 p.m. at the Port Chester Justice Court, 350 N. Main St.

Prior to the public meeting, the trustees are scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. for a closed-door "executive session" to consult with the village attorney and staff on Starwood Capital Group's plans to redevelop the former United Hospital site in Port Chester.

The permit amnesty program was launched in late 2012 to help property owners - residential and commercial - resolve longstanding issues they may have with related to their homes and businesses. The amnesty was designed to run from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2012, but after meetings with community members, village trustees decided to give the program more time.

The extendsion of the program runs until April 31.

The amnesty streamlines the permit process and cuts fees that would normally be charged.

Also up for hearings tonight:

- A proposed zoning amendment that would allow cosmetic reconditioning work on vehicles at auto dealership service centers, in connection with Dent Wizard, 110 Midland Ave.

- A proposal to prohibit parking on North Main Street from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. from the Metro-North railroad bridge to the Connecticut state line.

- Public comment on the proposed draft of the local waterfront revitalization program.

If you can't get to tonight's meeting, you can watch it live online at the village's web site.

Linda Turturino January 22, 2013 at 01:32 PM
Everyone needs to come out for this and speak this is VERY IMPORTANT for the future of this program and fairness for the residents of this Village - it is at the beginning of the agenda so you dont have to stay all night
FJT January 22, 2013 at 03:58 PM
Even at this late date, I believe most home owners don't understand what the amnesty program is because, after all, amnesty implies you somehow broke the law -- and most home owners think they've been playing by the rules all along. Most home owners will learn about amnesty the hard way. That is, when they attempt to sell or refinance their home, they will be told the Certificate of Occupancy that was in place for their home for decades is no suddenly no longer valid. Many real estate deals have fallen through because buyers couldn't wait the many months it's taken for sellers to get their new COs -- and many home owners today remain in a seemingly eternal limbo, owning homes they can neither sell nor refinance because it can take a very, very long time to get a new CO. So, who does this program benefit anyway? I do know that people's lives are being turned upside down by the blanket revocation of COs. Perhaps the BOT and mayor who opened this Pandora's box need to hear from home owners. Personally, extending the amnesty program is not the issue. The ill-advised blanket revocation of COs (allegedly due to misdeeds of village officials many years ago) and the current treatment of innocent home owners (forced to pay for the former officials' misdeeds) IS the heart of the matter.
FJT January 22, 2013 at 07:47 PM
Even at this late date, I believe most home owners don't understand what the amnesty program is because, after all, amnesty implies you somehow broke the law -- and most home owners think they've been playing by the rules all along. I think most home owners will learn about amnesty the hard way. That is, when they attempt to sell or refinance their home, they will be told the Certificate of Occupancy that was in place for their home for decades is suddenly no longer valid. Many real estate deals have fallen through because buyers couldn't wait the many months it's taken for sellers to get their new COs -- and many home owners today remain in a seemingly eternal limbo, owning homes they can neither sell nor refinance because it can take a very, very long time to get a new CO, despite the village's best efforts. So, who does this program benefit anyway? I do know that people's lives are being turned upside down by the blanket revocation of COs. Perhaps the BOT and mayor who opened this Pandora's box need to hear from home owners. Personally, extending the amnesty program is not the issue. The ill-advised blanket revocation of COs (allegedly due to misdeeds of village officials many years ago) and the current treatment of innocent home owners (forced to pay for the former officials' misdeeds) IS the heart of the matter. In a sense, ALL home owners have been declared guilty of building code violations and must eventually prove their innocence (for a fee). God bless America.
Bart Didden January 23, 2013 at 11:10 PM
@Linda, Hahahahaha - you wrote - "it is at the beginning of the agenda so you dont have to stay all night" That would be true if the Mayor believed the rules that he applies to the public that speaks to the issues in "public hearings" also applied to him. WHICH THEY DO!
Bart Didden January 23, 2013 at 11:29 PM
I have heard from the home owners. No one has to prove their innocence, they just have to submit to an inspection that shows that they are in compliance with the Laws of The State of New York. This is where they will show that they have "been playing by the rules" all along. If they do in fact have an issue, the Amnesty Program eliminates the potential impact of thousands of dollars of fines and penlites. It makes good sense to apply into the Amnesty Program because it will give you peace of mind and it could save you a ton of money. In the end, compliance with the Laws of The State of New York are not optional and the Village BOT can not waive a magic wand and make it go away. Three years ago people were screaming for Justice and Code Enforcement. Sorry, but there is no justice if it only applies to the "other guy". That is why Amnesty is the best way for us to provide real relief for those that enter the program. That is the benefit. Please register for the Amnesty Program.
FJT March 04, 2013 at 02:54 PM
You wrote: "No one has to prove their innocence, they just have to submit to an inspection that shows that they are in compliance with the Laws of The State of New York." All property owners "submitted" when they were issued COs by this village in the first place. Now you're making them do it again while the people you should have gone after sit pretty. After all, an inspection of property is not triggered until one attempts to sell or refinance their property, and the owner discovers that their CO that had been issued under a past administration has been pulled by the current administration. (Slumlords who don't want to sell or refinance are getting off Scott free.)
FJT March 04, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Bart, you wrote, "...the Amnesty Program eliminates the potential impact of thousands of dollars of fines and penlites (sic)." What gives you the right to levy thousands of dollars of fines and penalties on homeowners who played by the rules? It was the village's own appointees in the Building Department who informed each buyer's attorney, lender and title insurer that all was fine and that their deals could proceed. Personally, I do not believe you know what's going on. I know of condo owners who have paid to get new COs for their individual units but cannot sell because the building in which their apartments are located can only get a temporary CO. Temp COs are rejected by lenders out of hand. They are worthless. Consequently, there are many deals that have been tied up or blown up since last spring. Congrats!
Brian March 05, 2013 at 08:08 PM
Uh, how does a homeowner know that there is an issue in the first place so as to take advantage of the "amnesty"? Was there a notification process about this records fiasco, informing specific owners that there is an issue?
FJT March 05, 2013 at 09:29 PM
There's no informing of specific owners because -- in the interest of "fairness" -- every Certificate of Occupancy was nullified, and that amounts to about 6,000 of them. I think the blanket nullification occurred a little under a year ago. Since then most homeowners attempting to sell or refinance their property have been unpleasantly surprised to learn that there's suddenly a "problem" with their property, i.e., no valid CO in place -- even though they may well have had an official CO (issued by the village) on file for decades. And that's where the fun begins. Brian, you should go over to the Building Department before 1pm any weekday and ask for the details about the amnesty program (including fees) or you can go to the village website and read the description of the amnesty program.
FJT March 05, 2013 at 09:29 PM
The CO that you currently have has very likely been nullified, which means your chances of selling or refinancing -- without having your premises inspected and paying a fee for a new CO -- are slim to none. If major changes were made to your property either before or during your ownership of it -- and the proper procedures weren't followed, including the opening and closing of building permits -- you will definitely need this thing called "amnesty". Amnesty can either eliminate or reduce the fines to be paid for violation of village's rules. If a previous owner of your property violated the rules, or a crooked building inspector gave the owner a pass, it's you who will need to pay up.

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