Posted by: Dawn Powell | September 2, 2016

In the zone

Between fines and zoning, the Town Board has provoked a lot of lively conversation, online and elsewhere.  It does seem to be that a vague notion of what is illegal should not be a basis for doubling fines to be imposed when some people are really pissed off.  Perhaps we need a better sense of what is legal and what is not.

Say, for example, someone wants to open a dance school, in a CC2 commercial district in Lake Peekskill.  The code says that, in that district, that use requires a special use permit.  The Supervisor announces that he is going to change the code.  Then, he acknowledges that he cannot, and there will still be a need for a special use permit.  The Chair of the Planning Board says that it will take some time.  The Code Enforcement Officer says it is a permitted use.  Regardless of what any of us thinks of the use, regardless of what anyone wants personally. is there a reason to play by the rules?  How can one say in one breath that the fines for breaking any rule among volumes of rules should be increased onerously, when they say in the very next breath that the rule should be broken because they want it to be.

Take for example Landscaping uses.  The zoning code does not include Landscaping as a permitted use in CC2.  When the Zoning Board of Appeals decided to allow Tompkins Landscaping, they decided to allow the use.  Now, it is only the Town Board that can change the code.  The Zoning Board of Appeals is not empowered to do that.  Add to that, when the Planning Board approved Maple Leaf Landscaping, the Planning Board’s odd Negative Declaration of Significance, and Special Use Permit Approval stated, “Whereas, ‘landscape contracting’ is a specially-permitted use under the Zoning Board of Appeal’s Tompkins Landscaping Corp. (“Tompkins”) Decision and Order, dated December 12, 2005….”

The Planning Board approved a special use permit for a use that is not permitted in the code because the Zoning Board had already done that.

Huh?

If the officials ignore the rules when they feel like it, wouldn’t the public also feel like they can ignore the rules when they feel like it?  Consistently, these rules are enforced when we don’t like someone, or somebody doesn’t like someone.

Perhaps, clarifying and simplifying the rules, and enforcing them evenly would be a better start than angry insistence on higher fines within an terrible and ambiguous law.

Or maybe we should just dump the zoning and the fines, and let everyone do whatever they want, instead of just some people.


Responses

  1. Excellent post, very clearly explains the problem which continues to be SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT. It’s not like we don’t have enough laws on the books already- just look at the Uniform Code for example.

    The answer has always been, for generations, that in Put Valley certain people can do whatever the hell they want, no matter how much it violates the law, if that person happens to be in favor with the politicians who are the current rulers.

    Take the entrance to town at Oregon Corners which now looks like a Ghost Town and which is a total DISGRACE. How can it be that Sam, Jackie and the rest of them can’t figure out a way to get the Bank and whoever else owns those properties to fix them up and to DO SOMETHING to beautify the corners? HAVE THEY NO SHAME?? The owners of at least some of those buildings is a Bank with lots of money and I guess lots of political clout.

    WHY AREN’T THEY BEING GIVEN $1000 A DAY VIOLATIONS? WHY IS IT ALWAYS THE LITTLE GUY AND GAL??

    Also, look at the other entrance to town at Church Rd. and Oscawana Lake Rd. You have the historic property, formerly owned by the County, now for several years owned by a private individual who is taking his time stripping out any valuable materials before it is sold. THAT HOUSE IS A FALLING DOWN PUBLIC NUISANCE/ HAZARD. it was a hazard when the Ingersolls lived there. We are talking about a hazard for over 15 years with massive Code violations. YET NOTHING IS EVER DONE. WHY??

    Now look down the street at Artie Smith’s house and tell me that it’s possible people can even live there? You mean there are NO code violations in that place? And how is it that NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE for well over 10 years, maybe longer. WHY ARE THEY GETTING AWAY WITH THIS?

    Now go further down the road to the quirky but still standing Cornu house. Yes, the balconies outside are compromised but the main structure has been certified by an architect to be sound and habitable.

    THAT WAS NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE TOWN.. THE CORNU’S WERE FORCED OUT 5 YEARS AGO FOR “CODE VIOLATIONS” AND HAVE NOT BEEN ALLOWED TO RETURN. Their house is being sold out from under them for CODE VIOLATIONS.

    See what I mean by SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT?

    NOTE TO SAMO AND THE TOWN BOARD INCOMPENTS- HAVE YOU NO SHAME??

    The list is extensive yet NOTHING will be done unless it is to persecute law abiding citizens who are easy targets for the lazy building inspector and Code enforcers.

    People- if you don’t wake up and do something, start opening your mouths and complaining- you deserve everything you get.


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