Board of directors considers six-month amnesty to legalize permits

At the first meeting of the New Year’s village board, scheduled for Thursday, January 13, a public hearing will be held on a new local law regarding the Garden City Construction Department’s policy for the issuance of building permits. to construct.

Currently, some residential projects and permits are subject to a “legalization fee” of three times the regular fee to legalize work that has already been completed. In recent meetings, several residents have complained about the excessive cost of building permits that include these fees.

According to the village, the legalization fee is designed to cover the extra work of the village and its staff, inspecting the work “without the benefit of prior plans and specifications, continuous inspections during construction / installation and d ‘other requirements placed on applicants who make for more effective and responsible compliance with building / installation laws designed to protect the health and safety of village dwellers,’ as outlined in the local bill.

Former Garden City administrator and local attorney Thomas Lamberti raised concerns and questions about the ambiguity of the existing law during public comments at village board meetings this fall. Resident George Salem also provided comments to the board on the relationship with building department fees.

The commission sets the date of the hearing

On December 9, village attorney Peter Bee spoke about the proposed new local law before administrators vote to introduce it and set a date for the public hearing for the next meeting on January 13.

“Previously, the council had noted a certain ambiguity in the law in force. This local law will enact the existing interpretation and practice of the building superintendent with respect to the current provision of the code, ”said Bee.

Bee added that after his conversations with building superintendent Giuseppe Giovanniello, the idea for the village to enforce a six-month moratorium on the imposition of the department’s legalization fee has been put forward. As Giovanniello described to Council on December 9, the moratorium period, if approved in the coming weeks, would come into effect retroactively to January 1 and last until June 30, 2022.

Mayor Cosmo Veneziale noted this plan to grant an “amnesty” to residents who owed legalization or fees “three times” over the next six months. He also described the proposed new local law and the public hearing process at the next board meeting as “a reset to the building department’s fees and its review process.”

After a question from administrator John Delany, Bee noted that the village and the construction department are unable to count the total number of places or residences where construction work has not been “legalized.”

“If the site / buildings have not been legalized, it is probably because the building department is not aware… When the building department finds out about an illegal installation, they tell the owner that they should now legalize it, which imposes legalization fees – this is the very problem that caught our attention, ”explained Bee.

He also presented a scenario in which a moratorium would be in effect with the draft resolution, as presented to Council for consideration at the time of the January 13 public hearing on the local law.

“This would give the possibility for the owners to come (to the town hall) and pay only the building permit application fee and, therefore, the fees for their inspections would be paid to legalize their property file, but they would not be affected by the charges in question. and deal with proposed local law, ”said village attorney Bee.

Deputy Mayor Tom O’Brien liked the idea of ​​allowing this six-month period to “any resident with a problem to come to the building department and fix it.” He compared this process to the opportunity residents had at the end of 2019, 2020 and through March 31, 2021 to receive the “hard copies” of the original property records from the building department. The records were made available for collection in this manner through the Building Department’s “Digitization” of Files Project which continued for a number of years.

Superintendent Giovanniello explained that instead of proposing a three-month moratorium, he believes the first six full months of 2022 provides enough time and opportunity for residents. He added that “a period of a year can be too much.”

On January 13, trustees are expected to vote on passing a resolution with the terms and timeline for the moratorium on legalization fees specified, or with the moratorium period under proposed local law. Delany said he preferred it passed as a separate resolution.

Provide information to the public

George Salem made some public comments at the December 9 meeting and said the village modification and potential new local law should be promoted and featured in more places than on the village website and legal publicity. in the newspapers ; he suggested a detailed post or mayor’s column section in The Garden City News as the best method to inform the public of the change and the pending opportunity.

He also endorsed the six-month moratorium proposal and called it a “fantastic idea”.

“A lot of people don’t know that they can fix the problem by paying the past fees. I would like this to be spelled out with the types of residential works that may require a village building permit, as in previous board meetings we have discussed air conditioning installations, but there are all types of jobs that require village permits. The “3X” or “three times” fees are heinous, arbitrary and should be reduced. I checked and our construction department checked and only one in three villages on Long Island has these charges. It is also important to note that in most cases it is the contractor who was negligent in not issuing or resolving these charges and not the owners – the owners are truly innocent bystanders and they shouldn’t. not having to pay for the sin of the entrepreneur, ”Salem said. the trustees.

Superintendent Giovanniello explained that there would be publications on the village’s website, information provided in The Garden City News as well as an “email chain,” as Salem suggested.

“With the analysis of 67 municipalities, the village of Garden City is one of the 16 others that have three times (#X) the costs of the buildings department (legalization). Twenty villages have twice the fees, and one village has four times the fees. We’re in the 23 percent with that total of three times the fee… As for what involves a building permit, people should be made aware that anything they build or do with their residence would require a building permit. Garden City Village – the only thing that does not require a building permit is landscaping on your own property, not on village properties. We have to make it understood, ”he said.

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