Building Department

See also: Building Permit Fees. Code Enforcement , Operating Permit Fees

Town Board, 6-11-2013

Building Inspector John Winter advised the Board that if his department doesn’t get additional funds to cover overtime, plan reviews for building permits and inspections will be delayed. He said the department currently had only a two week backlog because of the overtime that has already been used. The 2013 budget has $3,000 for overtime and Mr. Winters pointed out that if comp time is used to cover overtime, it only robs Peter to pay Paul and will lead to longer delays. He said the department has been “swamped” with permit requests for portable generators. 


Supervisor Grace asked Mr. Winters to come back with a projection of his anticipated overtime needs. The comptroller will also look at the revenue that has been coming in from permits.

Town Board, 2/4/2012

Building Maintenance

In a 4-0 vote, the board voted on a series of budget transfers that eliminated a provision in the 2012 budget that consolidated all building maintenance staff into one budget line item under the supervision of the building inspector. The resolution put the funds for a maintenance employee back in the library budget and funds for two maintenance employees in the police department budget

Supervisor Grace explained that the change was the result of lots of discussion and the concern not to dilute the duties of the building inspector. The Winery, he said, was a perfect example of the building inspector doing what he was supposed to be doing instead of mopping floors.  Councilman Murphy said the return to the deconsolidated approach offered more checks and balances and that building inspector Winter said that he was happy not to have to micro manage the other departments. In response to Councilman Patel’s questions who would keep track of things if there were leaks, Mr. Grace said he planned to have an inventory done of each building. He said that Mr. Winter would make himself available as a resource to the other departments. When asked during the second courtesy of the floor who would supervise maintenance at the YCCC and Town Hall, he said that the town’ Human Resources person would sign the time sheets for those employees.

Building Permit Fees

Tent and other fees

Town Board, 3-25-2014

The board approved a resolution modifying the Master Fee schedule to add a $50-$100 fee for getting a permit to erect a temporary tent (the difference between the two fees was not discussed) and also a change in the fee for a flood plain permit, which was also not explained.


Mr. Winter also recommended that changes by made to the existing town code dealing with electrical  and plumbing issues.  One change would involve requiring a permit, where none is currently required, to remove and/or install new oil tanks.  He said that having an official record of either action would actually be an advantage for homeowners when they sell their houses.  The board directed the building inspector to prepare a draft of the proposed code amendments.

Town Board, 3-11 2014

In an item not on the agenda, Building Inspector Winter advised the board that pursuant to the state building code he was required to issue permits for temporary tents like the ones used at Navajo Fields or at the JV Mall or for homeowners erecting tents for parties. As long as he was doing that, he said, he wanted to know if the board wanted to charge a fee to cover the staff time it took to review and process the permit request. He suggested a $50 fee.


The board expressed concern about imposing a fee on homeowners and suggested that Mr. Winter come up with a fee schedule that would only apply to tents above a certain size, e.g., those used for commercial ventures.


Town Board, 12-3-2013

After opening the hearing, Building Inspector Winter explained the changes in the proposed law.

a. When the owner of an expired permit has passed final inspection and all necessary third party   

b. For  expired permits that  have not received final inspection, the permits are deemed to have expired on December 1, 2013.  In effect, this means that someone renewing a permit after that date will have to pay a renewal fee .

Town Board, 11-12-2013

In a brief discussion of the draft legislation, Supervisor Grace told the town attorney that the only language he wanted to see in the proposed local law were the provisions that were to be changed; he wanted all other text removed.   Based on the limited discussion, it appears that the new text will eliminate renewal fee for projects that have had all final inspections needed for a certificate of occupancy. Although it was less clear what the provisions were for all other open permits, it appeared that the renewal fee would be waived for permits expiring in 2013 and that the building department’s current software would be able to keep up to date on all newly issued permits. (This point needs to be clarified once the text of the proposed law is made availabale.) 


The Board set a December 3 public hearing on the law.

Town Board, 10-22-2013

Building inspector Winter presented the Board with four options for addressing the renewal fee issue. After a brief discussion, the Board agreed to grandfather all open building permits, noting that because building permit data is now computerized, going forward, there shouldn’t be a problem with expired permits.


The attorney will draft legislation and a public hearing was tentatively scheduled for December 1.


Town Board, 10-8-2013

In a continuation of an earlier discussion, the Board indicated its support for proposed legislation that would eliminate potential building permit renewal fees for all unclosed building permits greater than two years old  that have had final inspections and as long as the assessment for the property reflects the additional construction.  The Board directed the building inspector and town attorney to draft proposed legislation reflecting the change, including a fee schedule for permit renewals for properties that have not had final inspections.

Town Board, 9-24-2013

a. Flood plain permit. The Board agreed with the recommendation of Building Inspector John Winter that when a property owner needs a flood plain permit in combination with other permits, such as a building permit or mechanical permit, that the fee for the flood plain permit be reduced to a simple $50 rather than the current full fee. The change can be made to the town’s Master Fee Schedule by resolution.


b. Fee for building permit renewal. The issue is that under Town Code, when the building department gets a request to renew an expired building permit, the permit fee is doubled. Approximately a year ago, the town passed a local law granting a one year grace period that set aside his provision. However, it appears that there are many “open permits” that have remained open for many years and these often do not come to light until there’s a title search. One resident at the meeting, accompanied by her realtor, said she was being charged about $10,000 for three open permits dating back to 1993 that she was not aware of.   The realtor said that in her experience this was the case with one in 10 Yorktown houses.   


Supervisor Grace explained that property owners often do not close out their building permits and get a CO (certificate of occupancy) because the improvement to their property would trigger an increase in their assessment. But, he added, in some cases the cost of closing out the building permit, even with the double fee, might be less than what the added assessment might have cost them over the years. However, Mr. Winter advised the Board that he is working closely with the assessor and that the latter is reassessing  property as the improvements proceed and even before a CO is granted, although it may only be a partial re assessment.,


Mr. Winter added that based on new procedures his department has adopted, open building permits should be less of a problem going forward as his staff now makes site visits before building permits are issued.


Supervisor Grace asked Mr.Winter and Town Attorney Koster to consider draftng legislation dealing with the issue, adding that the Town’s overriding goals were to see that the construction was inspected and done properly and also to see that the property’s assessed value reflected the improvements.

Town Board, 6-25-2013

The Board discussed the need to revise the current law that doubles building permit fees if the property owner begins construction before the permit is issued. Supervisor Grace and Councilman Murphy expressed concern that there was too long a lag time between when the application was filed and when the permit was issued. They suggested that the law be changed to allow property owners to begin construction once the application was filed and that if the work didn’t conform to code after the permit was issued, the onus for ripping out the work would be the property owner’s.  They did not want to penalize the property owner for any delay in issuing the building permit.


In response to Councilman Paganelli ‘s question as to when a building permit triggered an increase in assessment,  the Supervisor explained that the assessment was adjusted after a certificate of occupancy was issued which, in effect, closed out the building permit. If the property owner didn’t apply for a CO, then the assessment wasn’t changed. That, he said, was the town’s problem, adding that the absence of COs was typically picked up years later when the property was sold.


Town Attorney Koster will prepare a draft of the amendments to the existing law.


Town Board, 7-17-2012

The Board opened and closed the hearing and voted to approve the proposed amendments to the Town Code as previously discussed.

Town Board, 5/8/2012

Building Inspector John Winter discussed revised language and a revised fee schedule for building permit renewals that reflected the Board’s previous discussions.The new text says that work must be commenced within 12 months of the issuance of the permit and that the permit expires after 12 months but can be extended. At the suggestion of Supervisor Grace, the initial application fee will be increased for residential additions, alterations or accessory building valued in excess of $1,000 to $150 from $50, and for new single family homes or multi family units to $300 from $100. The cost for nonresidential applications remained unchanged: $150 for additions or alterations and $300 for a new structure.The application fee, which covers the cost of reviewing the plans, is subtracted from the cost of the final permit. It is nonrefundable is the applicant never proceeds to get a building permit.


The renewal fee for the first 12 month extension will be $200, or 50% of the original fee, whichever is less, and $250,or 50%, whichever is less, for all other12 month extensions.


Councilman Bianco said he had no problem with the lower renewal fees but didn’t agree that permits would never expire. With no expiration provision, there’s no incentive to complete the work, he said. Supervisor Grace said that no other municipality had a permit expiration provision and Mr. Winter said that about 50% of municipalities did have one.Mr. Winter also corrected what he called a misconception that properties were only reassessed after a CO was issued. He said that his office works closely with the assessor’s office to monitor the progress of any new construction.


The town attorney will work with Mr. Winter to make some text changes and present a revised draft to the Board for its review before advertising the law for a public hearing.

Town Board, 4/10/2012

The board reviewed a draft of proposed amendments to the existing law governing the renewal of building permits. At issue were:

     a. should the permit holder be required to commence construction within a fixed period of time

     b. should a permit expire after a fixed period of time

     c. if a permit has to be renewed, what shouldthe renewalfee be


Commencement of construction:The existing law requires that construction begin within six months of the issuance of the permit. Initially, Supervisor Grace argued that the permit holder might need more time to begin the work and that any renewal be tied to the date construction actually started, not when the permit was issued. When Building Inspector John Winter and Councilman Paganelli pointed out the difficulty of the Town knowing when construction actually started, this provision was dropped.It was agreed that when permits are renewed, they will be back dated to the expiration date of the original permit.

Expiration period.Subject to renewals, permits are currently good for three years. Supervisor Grace preferred to return to the previous version of the law that did not include an expiration period so that permits always remained valid whether the work was ever commenced and/ or completed.

Renewal fee. As discussed in previous meetings(see below), Supervisor Grace said that the fee should just cover costs with some cushion. If the fee was too high, he said, people would wait until they sold their house to have the work inspected so that they could get the required CO. We should be encouraging people to renew their permits, he said.Mr. Winter will come back to the board with suggested fees.

Town Board, 2/28/2012

The board continued the discussion on what constituted an appropriate fee to renew an expired building permit (permits are good for one year), what to do if a permit is not renewed, and how to treat permit holders who had paid the renewal fee that went into effect in mid-2010.Supervisor Grace noted that given the current economy some jobs are not finished within a year and that sometimes people don’t bother to renew permits until they go to sell their home, at which time, they request a final inspection and get a Certificate of Occupancy. (Prior to 2010, there were no provisions in the Code dealing with expired permits.)


Supervisor Grace said that the renewal fee, currently set at 25% of the original fee for the first renewal and 50% for the second renewal was excessive. Building Inspector John Winter proposed $150 and $250 but Supervisor Grace thought that $200 and $350 was more appropriate.If the permit holder asks for a renewal after two years, Mr. Winter suggested that the fee be $350 for each year the permit wasn’t renewed.


Councilman Bianco said that it should be the property owner’s responsibility to know when the permit needed to be renewed. Councilman Murphy asked if the Town could send notices out to all current permit holders advising them of the expiration date. Mr. Winter responded that while the department’s computer system had that capability to do that, the records were not currently set up in a way that would make that task doable.


On the suggestion of Supervisor Grace it was decided that permit holders who paid the 25% renewal fee in 2010 or 2011 could apply to the town for a refund on a case by case basis as it would be too complicated to make the fees refundable retroactively. Mr. Winter said that there weren’t many who fell into this category.


Town attorney Koster will draft the necessary language for the needed changes.

Town  Board, 2/14/2012

The board discussed the need for amendments to the current law regarding renewals for building permits. Building Inspector John Winter explained that when the law governing building permits was changed in 2010, one of the new provisions required permit holders to pay a renewal fee when their permits expired. While permits under the previous law were also issued for a year, in practice, they were allowed to continue forever. The problem, Mr. Winter explained, was that there was no transition period, or grace period, between when the permit expired and when a renewal fee was charged. Also, the change in the law had not been explained and so some people weren’t aware that they had to renew their permits.

A second issue Mr. Winter raised was that the previous law had a provision requiring that work be started on the project within six months of the date the permit was issued. This provision was omitted from the new law and should be added, he said.

The third issue was the fee to be charged for a renewal. There was general agreement that the current charge of 25% of the original permit fee was unreasonable and that an administrative fee, based on what it cost the building department in staff time to issue the renewal should be charged. Supervisor Grace asked Mr. Winter to come up with suggestions for an administrative fee that was “rationale and reasonable based on the services provided.” Fees, he said, should not be seen as a source of revenue.

When Town Attorney Koster said she would not be able to have some draft language on the proposed changes for the board to review until its February 28th work session, Supervisor Grace indicated that he would draft the necessary changes himself in 15 minutes. Attorney Koster then said she would work with Mr. Winter to have something sooner.

In the interim, Mr. Winter has been advising residents with expired permits but with work still to be done that they should wait until the board makes the necessary changes.

Town Board, 1/10/2012

Citing an example of a $16,000 fee to renew a building permit, Supervisor Grace called the practice “exorbitant” and “crazy,” Supervisor Grace said that changes needed to be made to the Town Code. He said that if the fees were too high people will build without a permit and there will be no incentive to renew a permit, and without a permit the town would not know about the additional construction and increase the property’s assessment. He suggested that the renewal fee should be nominal.

Councilman Murphy briefly cited an instance where a property owner couldn’t get work inspected because the building permit hadn’t been renewed and Councilman Bianco said the it should be the property owner’s responsibility to know that the permit had to be renewed. He also said that something should be done to speed up the process of issuing building permits.  Councilman Paganelli said the town should be sensitive to people’s needs and not be punitive and said that the board needed to have a discussion with the building inspector.


(Editor’s note: building permits are good for one year. The renewal fee is 25% of the initial permit fee.)

Operating Permit Fees


Town Board, 4/10/2012

Although not on the agenda, Building Inspector John Winter reminded the board that when the previous board decided to hire a full time fire inspector in 2010 it did not want to impose a fee for the operating permits required for commercial establishments and places of public assembly. That board did, however, add a revenue line for operating fees in the 2012 budget, leaving it up to the current board to determine what the fee should be. He said the fee could fund the salary for the fire inspector.

e said tehat the fee could fund the salary expense for the Councilman Paganelli noted that he pays a fee every time an outside agency has to inspect something at his restaurant.He asked Mr. Winter to come back with a suggested fee that would reflect the time involved in doing the inspection. Taxpayers shouldn’t pay for commercial establishments, he said. Supervisor Grace added: If we do it, we should charge for it.

Code Enforcement

Abandoned building at Shrub Oak A&P Shopping Center

Town Board, 12-3-2012

A Shrub Oak resident complained about the condition of the abandoned building in the shopping center that once housed a tire company and that he said was a stain on the neighborhood. In addition to graffiti and boarded up windows, there’s also garbage around the building. Supervisor Grace said he had visited the site with the building inspector but that there was little the Town could do to correct the situation as long as it was safe and secure. The Town has ordinances dealing with unsafe structures and also a Property Maintenance law. The supervisor said that the best option for cleaning up the site was to re-incentivise the property owner to redevelop the property. He likened the problem to the vacant Food Emporium building in Yorktown Green and the buildings along Route 202.

Town Board, 4/4/2012

During Courtesy of the Floor, a Hanover St. resident asked the Town to do something about the illegal kickboxing signs that he said he has been removing himself every week. In response, Councilman Bianco explained that the Town just hired a replacement code enforcement officer and that he would be in touch with the person to take care of the problem. What the new person needs, he said, was a large pole, to reach up to the illegal signs.