The Common Council voted to add another code enforcement officer to increase illegal housing enforcement efforts with use of community development funds. The Council adjourned hearings on Tri-Kelly, Fortunoff’s, and Fenway maintenance buildings to December 3.
In discussion of the Code Enforcement Officer hiring it was revealed that illegal housing citations had increased from 146 in 1996-97 to 365 in 1999-2000, with the majority of violations perpetrated in the Battle Hill and Fisher Hill Neighborhoods.
Robert Greer, candidate for Mayor, said, “If it’s one way you can hurt a neighborhood quickly, it’s illegal occupancy. Is it (one more code enforcement officer) enough? Maybe we need more.”
Population Growth Contributes to Rise in Violations
Mayor Delfino attributed the increase in illegal occupancies to what he called “large population growth in the city over the last 5 years.” He cited Battle Hill and Fisher Hill as the primary areas where the illegal occupancy codes were being violated.
Pauline Oliva, Councilwoman, pinpointed the lower end of Main Street in the Eastview section as another area where considerable violations are known to exist.
Gismondi: Night enforcement dangerous to Code Enforcement Officers. Three Month Investigations Common.
Mike Gismondi, City Commissioner of Building, interviewed by WPCNR after the Common Council meeting said that citing illegal occupancy violations is dangerous work. First, he said, inspections have to be done at night, and because of past experience, police officers are needed to accompany the Code Enforcement Officers. The Code Enforcement Officers have not been treated well by the residents, and are often denied access and surveillance of the property.
As a consequence, night inspections have been instituted, which require accompanyment by a White Plains Police Officer.
Gismondi said, that in order to inspect the properties, the Code Enforcement Officers have to be given permission to enter the homes. Second, if entry is denied the Code Enforcement Officer, evidence has to be compiled, which can also be dangerous work. Cars have to be counted. Garbage analyzed. Persons entering house surveyed.
“Often it can take three months to compile the evidence to take homeowners to court,” Gismondi reports.
Three hearings adjourned
The Council heard for the second time in a week, Tri-Kelly Thirsty Turtle application for an outdoor dining facility behind the Thirsty Turtle on East Post Road. Again, the hearing was adjourned to December 3.
After having met the objections of The Esplanade senior citizens complex immediately adjacent, Thirsty Turtle was met with complaints by the owner of the Sloan-Bar Building across Post Road about illegal parking by Thirsty Turtle patrons in their behind-the-building lot, as well as piles of beer bottles in their trash receptacles.
In a lengthy 45-minute discussion, while the owners of Fortunoffs looked on, the minutiae of nightlife was examined.
A White Plains Police Task Force by vigilant enforcement has cut down on the rowdiness and number of citations to overindulging patrons in the East Post Road area.
Mayor Delfino quietly suggested perhaps a gate could be put up to block access to the Sloan Bar parking area.
Pauline Oliva suggested sale of beer could be limited to draught beer only (eliminating bottle discarding).
No one from either the Thirsty Turtle or the Sloan-Bar Building seemed to know who employed the gentlemen waving cars into the Sloan-Bar parking lot. (Though the Thirsty Turtle owner, said he had given them pieces of pizza.)
The Council voted to adjourn this to December, giving the time for the two businesses to work out the parking controversy.
Two More Continuations
The hearings for the Fenway maintenance sheds at the Fenway Golf Club and Fortunoffs were adjourned to December 3.
All members of the Council were quite welcoming to Fortunoffs.
Some residents of Hale Avenue immediately West of the proposed Fortunoffs site expressed concern about the loading bays for the complex with the entrance for deliveries immediately adjacent to their backyards.
William Null, the attorney presenting for Louis and Andrea Fortunoff (who were present in the audience), said the residents would be contacted and more details of shielding and landscaping fo the bays would be explained to them. He felt this would make them more comfortable with the situation.
Hospital Senior Convalescent Facility renewal referred
In a routine consent agenda item, several councilpersons skirmished over the Mayor’s decision not to allow Barbara Benjamin to speak on the New York Presbyterian Hospital request for a renewal of the Special Permit to build a senior convalescent facility.
The Mayor said that if he allowed persons to speak on one consent agenda item, there would be no purpose of having a consent agenda. He said that when the matter came up for a public hearing, residents would have an opportunity to speak on the issue.
Long awaited Recreation Master Plan submitted
Councilmembers received “just printed” copies of the Administration Recreation Master Plan, though none were yet available to the media. Pauline Oliva commented she wished there had been more “history” of the properties included in the report.
Other reports submitted and now available to the public were the Department of Budget Annual Report for 2000-01 and the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report of the City of White Plains Fiscal Year, ending June 30, 2001.
The Mayor closed the Council Meeting urging all to go out and vote today, Election Day.