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Port Chester May Extend Amnesty Program Into 2016

Port Chester may extend its building permit amnesty program by more than two years.
Port Chester may extend its building permit amnesty program by more than two years. Photo Credit: The Daily Voice File Photo

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Port Chester may extend its building permit amnesty program by more than two years due to the high number of people enrolled in the program.

Due to issues in the village's building department for several years, many of the village's buildings are not up to code or lack proper permits and paperwork. During the last three years, the department has attempted to crack down on these code violations and created the permit amnesty program as an incentive for people to bring their homes into compliance without facing penalties and fees. The program originally was supposed to expire in December 2012, but was extended to Oct. 31. The village is now proposing to extend it to May 31, 2016.

The building department has been working to process the hundreds of applications to the program that have been submitted, according to Building Inspector Peter Miley. That number is expected to greatly increase after a number of revisions to the program were made last month in an effort to provide more relief for one- and two-family homes. The department has received about 480 applications and has processed about 10 percent of them.

"We just recently ramped up staffing with respect to the influx of applications and the anticipated ones," Miley said. "We're going to need some room, no question about it."

The village's Planning Commission originally suggested extending the program until the end of December 2014. However, the decision was made to extend it even further because so many people have applied to the program, and more time would allow the building department more maneuverability to handle the high priority cases first and then handle the lower priority residences.

The amnesty program has caused controversy among residents since its inception. Some believe it rewards people who violate the village's building codes, while forcing the law-abiding residents to wade through more bureaucracy and approvals. Village officials have countered that it helps residents save both time and money on lengthy and costly approval processes.

The extension will need to be approved by both the Board of Trustees and the Planning Commission. The Board of Trustees will have a public hearing on extending the amnesty program at its Oct. 7 meeting.

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