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Trustees Meet Tonight: What's Happening With United Hospital Property?

Port Chester's Board of Trustees will receive an update on the former United Hospital property and discuss housing safety in the wake of the most recent fire.

Trustees will talk housing safety issues when they meet tonight, four days after the latest major fire in Port Chester.

Tonight's discussion was on the table before the fire made headlines. Village Republicans have been pushing for a new Certificate of Occupancy law, and the discussion was scheduled as an extension of earlier talks about the proposed law.

Under current law, homes zoned for three or more families are scheduled for regular inspections, along with commercial properties. But some trustees say that's not enough -- several recent fires, including last week's blaze on Olivia St., occured in homes that were listed as dwellings for two families or less.

With landlords illegally converting basements, attics, porches and other areas into apartments, some trustees say the existing law makes it easier for negligent landlords to avoid routine inspections.

There have been no deaths despite six major fires over the past year, a fact most attribute to fast fire department responses -- and luck.

"We're really playing with fate and we've been very lucky," said Trustee Bart Didden, who is leading efforts to tighten the village's Certificate of Occupancy law.

The proposed law would require a new Certificate of Occupancy (and inspection) each time a property changes hands in Port Chester. But it's been opposed, most notably by Mayor Dennis Pilla and the Port Chester/Rye Bar Association.

Pilla said the proposed law may be too restrictive, discouraging transactions and hurting the local economy. And lawyers have complained about bottlenecks since Port Chester reformed its building and code departments, as staff enforce more rigorous guidelines.

Anthony Gioffre is president of the Port Chester/Rye Bar Association and said he was representing some 50 attorneys when he complained to the board this summer.

"Brokers are telling prospective residents, 'You know what? Go to a different community,'" Gioffre told trustees. "Quite frankly, that's a very sad state of affairs."

Also on tonight's agenda: An update on the United Hospital property, which is owned by Starwood Capital. With the hospital long-abandoned, the building showing signs of age and the previously-immaculate landscaping now overgrown and wild, residents and local leaders see the property as another eyesore in the village. But previous proposals for the site didn't sit well with trustees, who are wary of residential development adding more children to overcrowded schools, and commercial development adding more traffic to an already-congested corridor.

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Silvio V. Buccieri November 07, 2011 at 08:29 PM
pass the Village of certifcate occupancy law. NOW'' don't wait till some has to get hurt!! wake up Port Chester and smell the rose's. pass the law.
Linda Turturino November 07, 2011 at 11:07 PM
I agree, if you do not have illegal issues in your home you should have nothing to worry about. However, we need to pass and ENFORCE laws against the landlords caught and not let them off easy. We need to make it as difficult as possible for rentals of illegal apartments maybe have inspections of individual apartments to make sure they are safe. Again if you have done nothing wrong you have no worries
Cadeyrn November 08, 2011 at 01:24 PM
Deal with the village-wide illegal housing issue NOW.
Silvio V. Buccieri November 09, 2011 at 05:07 PM
I say why" we keep talking about this and they still do there thing? tax payers of Port Chester need to rise up and do our own investigation of these landlords who do not live in Port Chester and run to too the bank with our money. and we have't to pay the taxes for the schools. I say to all time is runnig out. pissed off tax payer of Port Cester. code inforcement where are you???
Robert Pastosa November 11, 2011 at 01:48 PM
Stop hiring illegal aliens to work on your homes. Start there.

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