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Port Chester Permit Amnesty Program Extended to May 1

Officials, residents agree there is still much confusion in the community over the program designed to help property owners clear up old problems.

The Port Chester village Board of Trustees followed up Tuesday night on a previous agreement as they approved an extension of the village's building permit amnesty program.

Although Port Chester has been talking about the amnesty program for months - it was originally supposed to expire Dec. 31, 2012 - village officials and residents agree there is still much confusion about the program in the community.

With the amnesty, property owners who apply have 18 months to correct paperwork problems and other issues related to their properties. The program reduces fees and forgives penalties that would ordinarily be charged to resolve building issues.

Port Chester Village Manager Christopher Steers told village Board of Trustees members on Tuesday that, based on his experience, the program is going well.

After a series of community meetings about the amnesty program, Port Chester trustees decided in December to extend the amnesty by four months so that property owners - residential and commercial - could have more time to learn about the amnesty and decide whether to participate.

During discussions about the amnesty, trustees have debated just how long the program should be kept in place. 

One of the goals of the program is to help property owners close out old building permits that were never cleared. These open permits could cause problems for owners as they go to sell a property.

Tuesday's approval from the Board of Trustees was necessary for the village Building Department to move forward with new amnesty applications received after the original Dec. 31, 2012, deadline.

For more information on the amnesty program, click here.

FJT March 04, 2013 at 03:17 PM
"Port Chester Village Manager Christopher Steers told village Board of Trustees members on Tuesday that, based on his experience, the program is going well." Sorry, but I have to ask, what percentage of homeowners have requested amnesty? I'll bet it's a very low percentage -- no greater than 5%, despite the continued focus on amnesty at BOT meetings, a separate meeting devoted to amnesty and ongoing publicity in the Patch. Think about it. Amnesty implies homeowners are guilty of something. Most homeowners believe they've played by the rules, so why would they be paying attention to any program that has the word "amnesty" attached to it? As for the homeowners who have not played by the rules, maybe they're paying attention to the amnesty program -- but that would be a very small percentage of homeowners (i.e., those actually guilty of overcrowding and major code violations). Personally, I don't see them availing themselves of amnesty anyway because they're doing so well financially that they see no need to sell or refinance: ironically the two events that trigger an inspection of premises, since you need a new CO to sell or refinance -- and the only way to get a new CO is to submit to an inspection. It's a shame the village has not focused on the true offenders, but instead cast its net over the least likely offenders: condo owners and others who do not illegally carve up their living spaces nor stuff them with tenants.

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