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Port Chester Looks To Extend Amnesty Program Until 2014

The Port Chester building department may extend its amnesty program until Sept. 30, 2014, rather than until 2016 as previously proposed.
The Port Chester building department may extend its amnesty program until Sept. 30, 2014, rather than until 2016 as previously proposed. Photo Credit: The Daily Voice File Photo

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Port Chester is looking to extend its building permit amnesty program until Sept. 30, 2014.

The amnesty program was enacted to provide relief to homeowners who had bought homes that were in violation of building codes. Those who enroll in the program are allowed to bring their homes into compliance without paying heavy penalties and fees. The program was modified this summer in an effort to provide more relief to owners of one- and two-family homes.

The building department has received about 480 applications to the program, and has so far processed about 10 percent of them. Officials had proposed extending the program until May of 2016 so that all the applications could be processed, but the proposed extension has now been scaled back to 2014.

"The longer you keep these programs open, the less likely that you're gong to have the success you're looking for, because there's no impetus to go forward and correct the problems," said Village Manger Chris Steers. "If you have a window that's succinct and a timeline that's succinct, those individuals who are interested in taking part in the program will do so."

Steers said that the changes that were made this summer are quite significant, and that it is unknown right now how many more people will be applying for the program as a result of the changes. He said that in his experience, extending the program all the way to 2016 would lead to a lot of people putting off applying, and that there would likely be a big rush to apply in the final months before the program ends.

Frank Ferrara said that he is in favor of keeping the extension until 2016, though he understand why officials may want to end it sooner.

"The fact of the matter is, this is going to be an ongoing thing. People will be refinancing, they'll be moving, and the demand for the service will be ongoing," Ferrara said. "I think it's been extended sufficiently that people will be expecting it to be extended in any event, and the idea of setting a hard end date might not hold a lot of water."

The Board of Trustees will have a public hearing on the proposed extension of the program at its meeting on Monday, Oct. 21.

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