Office of Buildings & Codes One Year Anniversary, 844 Inspections Completed – 7,500 Violations Issued Since Launch
On Tuesday Rockland County Executive Ed Day and Office of Buildings & Codes (OBC) Director Ed Markunas provided an update on the work and challenges of assuming control of the Village of Spring Valley Building Department as ordered by New York State Department of State (NYSDOS) effective February 14, 2022.
“It was a near-insurmountable mission taking on code enforcement in a village best described as ground-zero for illegal housing problems in our County,” said County Executive Ed Day. “We are literally trying to correct decades of mismanagement and neglect of the New York State Uniform Code in the Village and remind everyone this is not something that can, nor will, be fixed overnight.”
Since the launch of OBC one year ago, 844 properties inspected had multiple violations except for one – a firehouse. About 7,500 violations were issued on those inspections and a quarter of a million dollars levied in fines. On average other municipalities typically discover one or two violations per property while OBC is discovering an average of 10 in the Village of Spring Valley.
Challenges detailed by Director Markunas include:
- Creating an administrative court for hearings
- Building an interim record-keeping system
- Developing internal processes for issuing violation notices
- Recreating a new property master list over the course of two months
- Replacing contracted Spring Valley building and fire inspectors
“Unfortunately, all those (Spring Valley) inspectors have since been removed from participating and returned to the village because they were not adhering to the rules and regulations of this administration nor the strict enforcement of New York State Building and Fire Code,” explained Director Markunas.
“Despite all the hurdles, we’re on track to complete 3-years’ worth of inspections in 2 years… a year ahead of schedule,” said County Executive Day.
NYSDOS has not provided details as to what specific circumstances control of the Building Department will be returned to Spring Valley, but the County of Rockland can confirm those conversations have begun between the Village and NYSDOS.
“With everything that we’ve encountered in this village, I can tell you we’ve dodge countless bullets. If this doesn’t change at the local level, it’s only a matter of time before we see another tragedy like the Evergreen Court fire,” added County Executive Day. “I want our residents to know that we understand and share your frustration. Illegal housing is becoming a major problem, and in this village it’s at near-crisis level. The sad reality is enforcement is only a Band-Aid and not solving the true cause of this issue. It is up to those we elect to local office to make sure development is happening properly, responsibly, and safely.”
The County of Rockland has about 200,000 active registered voters. While 75% of those voters turned out for the 2020 presidential election only about 25% voted in 2021 local races for town supervisors, mayors, trustees, and court justices.
“Voting for our nation’s leader certainly has value but voting for the officials making decisions that affect your daily life and wellbeing has even more value. These are the races and the people making decisions that impact your homes, your families, your schools, and your taxes. If you don’t like the choices being made on behalf of your community, then vote for candidates who will get it done right,” concluded County Executive Day.
OBC only has authority to enforce building and fire codes in the Village of Spring Valley, which was specially granted by New York State. The public can submit complaints within the village to 845-364-3700 or by email to BuildingsandsCodes@co.rockland.ny.us.