Public Safety – Proper Land Use

 

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An ‘Historic Site’ under Rockland
County’s new ‘Grandfather’ law?

Ed Day has sent out the following statement about a new County Legislature inanity.

The “Legal Consistency Act” has been passed by the County legislature and would amend the County Sanitary code and provide for grandfathering of buildings in a manner that would essentially compromise critical egress requirements that could risk lives.

Maybe even worse, there is a major unintended consequence that would allow ANY town or village in Rockland County to declare part or all of itself to be an “historic area” just because “it says so.” For example, ANY town and villages such as Haverstraw, Village of New Square, Village of Nyack could pass a local law stating that all of said town or village is located within an “historic area” regardless of whether or not it’s actually an historic site.

That local law would preclude any review of ANY structure under any existing County regulation, based upon a Certificate of Occupancy. THINK ABOUT THE IMPACT OF THAT UPON OUR ENTIRE COUNTY! For obvious reasons, I vetoed this legislation, and at tomorrow’s meeting of the County legislature there will be an effort to override my veto.

The Health Department has been key in addressing the matter of fire trap housing set up by greedy landlords. This effort would be severely compromised should this law go into effect. The Commissioner of Health has “implored” the legislature to uphold my veto of this law, and the County Attorney affirmed that the legislature is not even authorized to amend the Public Health or Sanitary laws.

YOU can stop this … Please let your legislator know immediately (845 638-5100) that you do not want lives placed at risk nor do you want Towns/Villages authorized to ride roughshod over laws intended to ensure safety and competent land use. Urge him or her to support my veto of the “Legal Consistency Act”. Thank you!

Ed Day
County Executive

The law that Legislator Schoenberger and some of his colleagues are pushing is an attempted end run around Day’s efforts to stop the illegalities we all see by returning the enforcement that is necessary to the present ineffective status quo by towns such as Ramapo.

Here is Day’s veto message to the Legislature that if not upheld on Tuesday evening will become the law in Rockland County

Resolution No. 158 of 2014 – A LOCAL LAW PROVIDING FOR LEGAL CONSISTENCY BETWEEN COUNTY REGULATIONS AND MUNICIPAL BUILDING AND ZONING CODES WITH RESPECT TO HISTORICAL STRUCTURES.

I am vetoing and returning without my approval this Resolution which would severely restrict the Rockland County Board of Health in the enforcement of the County Sanitary Code.

By enacting the proposed local law, the County Legislature seeks “to provide legal consistency between the Rockland County Sanitary Code and the municipal building and zoning code with regard to historical structures”, the definition of which appears to be provided by the parameters of its application in that it “shall only apply to a structure that is either (1) on the State or National Registers of Historical Places; or (2) an historic site or is located within an historic area as designated by a town or village pursuant to an adopted local law; or (3) is more than 125 years old.”

However, the proposed local law, in creating a binding standard applicable to ‘historic structures’, restricts the County Board of Health in the enforcement of the County Sanitary Code which is inconsistent with Section 13.4.0 requiring its applicability to “all dwellings, dwelling units, habitable rooms and rooming houses within the jurisdiction of the Rockland County Health District…”

Consequently, the proposed local law if regarded as inconsistent with the County Sanitary Code, which is a general law of the State, would not be permissible under Public Health Law §347(c). 1980 Opns. Atty Gen. 198 (which rendered the opinion to Rockland County Attorney Mark L. Parris specific to its facts that a county legislature has no power to enact a local law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Public Health Law, the State Sanitary Code, or the Rockland County Sanitary Code.)

Accordingly, the proposed local law to address the stated legislative concern might reach beyond the express, implied or incidental powers of the County Legislature and, despite its presumption of validity if enacted, may be subject to a legal challenge in court.

The proposed Local Law will jeopardize the safety of the very people that the Sanitary Code protects. If certain dwellings are simply deemed to be in compliance with the Sanitary Code, based on possession of a Certificate of Occupancy, without actually having the safety measures required by law, people could suffer serious injury or death in a fire based upon the legal fiction that having a piece of paper is equal to real, identifiable safety measures.

I ask all Legislators to consider the unintended consequences of this proposed Local Law. It will permit any town or village in Rockland County to declare part or all of itself to be a “historic area” just because “it says so.” For example, the Town of Clarkstown, Town of Stony Point, Village of Haverstraw, Village of New Square, Village of Nyack could pass a local law stating that all of said town or village is located within a “historic area,” regardless of whether or not it’s truly historic. This would preclude ANY review of ANY structure under ANY existing County regulation, based upon a Certificate of Occupancy.

For the above reasons, I respectfully disapprove the above cited resolution. I ask that each member of the Legislature cast a vote to sustain my veto.

[Picture Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letchworth_Village]

About Michael N. Hull

Michael N. Hull has lived in Rockland County for 35 years where he writes articles on philosophy and political affairs. Hull has written over 300 articles for New City Patch and Rockland Voice. He is presently a senior editor of the Facebook page Clarkstown: What They Don't Want You To Know and a senior editor of Rockland Voice.

About the Author
Michael N. Hull has lived in Rockland County for 35 years where he writes articles on philosophy and political affairs. Hull has written over 300 articles for New City Patch and Rockland Voice. He is presently a senior editor of the Facebook page Clarkstown: What They Don't Want You To Know and a senior editor of Rockland Voice.

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