Monday, September 12, 2005

Code Enforcement? What's That?

Another Town Code Not Enforced: Vehicles on Private Property

By Roy J. Mezzapelle

To regular readers of the Elmont Herald, the name Helmuth Ruppe is not new. Mr. Ruppe is a regular contributor to the Elmont Herald's Letters to the Editor column, and whether you or I agree with him or not, he has done tremendous legwork to expose another blight on our community - wrecked, disassembled, or inoperative motor vehicles on streets and residential properties.

Over the past several months, Mr. Ruppe has sent me hundreds of photos addressing a variety of quality of life issues in Elmont. Many of his photos are of unregistered motor vehicles in residential driveways. Some vehicles are new, and some are old, some are intact, and some are in pieces, some have tires, and some are up on jacks or stands, or have been in some state of disassembly for a LONG time. Other photos show wrecked cars, obviously not operational, parked on residential streets in Elmont.

A recent conversation with a long-time member of the Fifth Precinct revealed that the following Town Code exists to address this issue. Please familiarize yourself with the following. Where appropriate, I have bolded and/or underlined the text.

Chapter 173 - ARTICLE II, Vehicles on Private Property
§ 173-9. Legislative intent. The outdoor storage of abandoned or junked motor vehicles or the used parts therefrom within the Town of Hempstead is a hazard to the preservation of the public health, welfare and safety in that it constitutes health, fire and safety hazards and is an attractive nuisance to children which is a peril to their safety. Such outdoor storage constitutes a blight on the town's landscape, is generally unsightly and tends to depreciate the value of property in the neighborhood. Outdoor storage of abandoned or junked motor vehicles or the used parts therefrom within the Town of Hempstead is hereby regulated for the preservation of the public health, safety and welfare of its residents.
§ 173-10. Definitions. As used in this Article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
"ABANDONED VEHICLE" - Any motor vehicle, the ownership of which cannot reasonably be determined or of which the owner does not intend to recover possession.
"JUNKED" - Any motor vehicle which is unregistered in the State of New York or any other state and/or which is either in a wrecked or dismantled or partly dismantled or in inoperative condition.
"MOTOR VEHICLE" - All vehicles propelled or drawn by power other than muscular power, intended for use on public highways.
"PERSON" - Any individual, firm, partnership, association or corporation.

§ 173-11. Outdoor storage prohibited.
A. It shall be unlawful for any person to store or deposit or cause or permit to be stored or deposited an abandoned or junked motor vehicle or the used parts therefrom in the Town of Hempstead except within a wholly enclosed building.
B. Any abandoned or junked motor vehicle or the used parts therefrom stored or deposited on any land in the Town of Hempstead shall be removed by the owner, occupant, lessee, agent or tenant thereof or the person occupying, managing or controlling said land.

173-12. Enforcement. The Commissioner of Buildings of the Town of Hempstead or his authorized representatives are hereby designated to enforce the provisions of this chapter. Note: To save space, § 173-13 & 14 were not printed for this article.
§ 173-13. Notice; request for hearing. 173-14. Hearing. § 173-15. Exemption.
The provisions of this Article shall not apply to automobile dismantlers duly licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles of the State of New York, provided that such automobile dismantler complies with all other applicable provisions of law of the Town of Hempstead and State of New York.
§ 173-16. Penalties for offenses.
A. Any person or persons, association or corporation committing an offense against this Article or any section or provision thereof shall be guilty of a violation, punishable by a fine not less than one hundred dollars ($100.) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500.) or imprisonment for a period not exceeding fifteen (15) days, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
B. Each day of continued violation shall constitute a separate additional violation.

At first, I was going to publish several photos of the worst offenders, including cars not only in violation of this section of Town Code, but also being used as storage bins or garbage dumpsters, but decided against it as the locations would be too easy to recognize. When is enough enough? When will residents wake up and realize that our quality of life issues are not being addressed by the Town of Hempstead?

When the Code itself states that this issue is a "blight on the town's landscape, is generally unsightly and tends to depreciate the value of property in the neighborhood," we cannot accept that the Town of Hempstead allows it to occur.

Is this another issue the Town of Hempstead can't be proactive on? Must we also complain about these clearly visible eyesores, and just how many times do we have do make the same complaints before the Town takes action?

I received many comments on last week's article. The overwhelming majority agreeing with what was said, but some asking why am I always bashing the Town of Hempstead? Well, I'll tell you. They aren't doing their job, and no one holds them accountable.

If they aren't going to provide services, they should relinquish the power to someone who will get the job done - Republican OR Democrat - just get it done! Remember, elected officials are employees of the taxpayers - and I think it's time the taxpayers say, "KATE, YOU'RE FIRED!"
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The writer, who serves as Co-Chair of The Community Alliance, is publisher of the Elmont Herald, where this article first appeared. The article is reprinted with permission.

Town government is responsible for enforcement of the majority of building Codes, Zoning Laws, and Ordinances such as referenced above, all of which impact significantly upon our quality of life. Do we want a Town government that is proactive or reactive? Do we want laws that are vigorously enforced or routinely overlooked? How's the quality of life in YOUR community?

Its time to take back our Town!

1 comment:

  1. Who gives the perons guilty the summons?

    The TOH inspectors or the Nassau County P.D.?????

    I believe it to be that latter and if so then the offenses have to be reported and the NCPD dispatched to investigate serve usually a warning followed by a summons?

    I have the same problem in my home town but the only difference is that it is a Old Boat on a trailer in the street not a car, Nassau County was called, NCPD was called after that they were going to investigate yet the Boat remains a hazard and an eyesore for all of the residents.