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Thread: Permits, we dont need no stinking permits

  1. #1
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    Permits, we dont need no stinking permits

    At least that is what some Lancaster residents and businesses believe to be true and/or just try to scam the system.

    Considering there were a boat load of building permits issued this past month, as well as several special use permits were approved by Town Board resolution approval at Monday evenings meeting, I asked the board for clarification on the whys and wherefores for permits and the penalties for not getting said permits.

    According to the town web site permits are required for structural changes, accessory structures, pools and barns; a broad spectrum with no specifics.

    So, at the meeting I asked:

    Chowaniec: What is the primary reason for getting a permit?

    Building Department Supervisor Jeff Simme: For putting up structures.

    Chowaniec: Two homes in a subdivision off William Street recently had roof replacement. Is it the responsibility of the homeowner or the roofing contractor to get the permit?

    Simme: It is the homeowners responsibility.

    Chowaniec: What if the homeowner is led to believe that the contractor is going to get the permit, yet he does not and does the work anyway. Who then is in violation for not getting the required permit and the consequences?

    Simme: The homeowner is ultimately responsible.

    Chowaniec: I know that, as well as many others. Yet there are individuals who assume otherwise and trust that the contractor would get a required permit for any work done that requires one. Unfortunately, many people have no idea when and what permits are required to do work around the house; and that includes me. It would behoove the town and the media to publish a list as to what permits are required to do what. Too often people say to me that they didnt need a permit to erect/construct/install something when I hear others say otherwise.

    However, isnt there another reason the town requires a permit, namely to protect a homeowner against risk should the contractor not be on the Building Department list as providing liability and workmans compensation coverage, as well as some indication that the contractor is capable to perform work that should ensure a safe environment when electrical, plumbing, etc. projects are completed? Isnt that another reason for a resident to apply for a permit?

    Simme: It should encourage them to apply for a permit.

    Chowaniec: Unfortunately, too many residents look upon the permit system as a money grab, and you cant blame them.

    When a permit is issued, does anyone from the building department go to the site and inspect the work performed to ensure it was done according to code?

    Simme: It depends what kind of permit it is. There are all kinds of home inspections.

    Chowaniec: My point is that individuals fail to get the required permits because they have no idea when one is required or they are scamming the system and too often your department gets blamed when a project occurs without one by individuals who know of the transgression but are unwilling to bring the infraction to your attention.

    Recently there have been several applications for non conforming special use permits applied for, and all but one has been granted. When the Building Department finds out, after the fact, that a business is in operation without getting a special use permit and/or has violated the terms of the permit, is that operation shut down?

    Simme: It all depends on what is taking place. If someone is running a business out of their garage and we find they will not have a special use permit, we will tell them to come in and get the required permit. Nine out of ten times the business is not shut down but we put it in as a violation.

    Chowaniec: So the party is cited with a violation, the issue goes to court, thereby leaving your hands?

    Simme: Most times it doesnt (go to court).

    As my allotted time was up, I went to the Building Department later in the week to continue the discourse. What I discovered was:

    • There is no bochere available listing projects were permits were required, etc.
    • The Building Department oft times will not cite an individual if he or she has not gotten the required permit because they did not realize one was required, the contractor did not follow up on getting the permit, or other extenuating circumstances. They will demand the individual get the required permit; and they do.
    • Permits provide protection in that the applicant is able to ask and receive information as to whether a contractor is listed as one in good standing, regarding liability and workmans compensation insurance and workmanship quality as well. If an individual wishes to do the project on his own there is an exempt application where that individual accepts liability.
    • As in some other municipalities, Lancaster does not provide a brochure/list of types of project work require a permit. There is a thick New York State code book the Department uses as a guide and the town codes have within them when permits are required.
    • It is a complex situation and homeowners need only to call the Building Department before beginning a project to discover whether a permit is required. In some towns the installation of a hot water tank or furnace requires a permit; not in Lancaster as of now.

    In todays litigious world it is often wiser to pay a few bucks up front than mucho dollars later. Those that dont get permits for projects that have assessment increase implication are also scamming the system and adversely impacting those taxpayers doing the right thing.

  2. #2
    Member gorja's Avatar
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    I agree, there should be some list somewhere of the projects that need permits. Mr Simme could make up a list and provide a link on his department's web page.


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    Permits should only be required for structural changes. In reality you're supposed to get them for everything. Fences, sheds, roofs, basement remodel....

    Seems quite a bit excessive to me.

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    Hey SACL, what’s going on?

    A friend informed me today that while traveling own Pavement Road he noticed dumping and grading taking place behind a house that is owned by the Buffalo-Lancaster Airport. I would have to ask the following:

    • As this person travels the road a few times a day, he saw the security gate unattended. Isn’t that a no-no according to Homeland Security?

    • Did the service provider get a dumping permit? If so, has it been determined where the materials came from? Have you contacted the Town Building Department?

    • Considering the BLA and the airport came to an agreement that states that the SACL would receive 10-day prior notification of any permit issued to the airport for whatever reason, did SACL receive such notification?

    • Is this another example of “we don’t need no stinking permits” by an entity that has received three LIDA’s without any job creation rationale and is suing the town because it doesn’t like the lower assessment number it received from the Town Assessor?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Chowaniec View Post
    Hey SACL, whats going on?

    A friend informed me today that while traveling own Pavement Road he noticed dumping and grading taking place behind a house that is owned by the Buffalo-Lancaster Airport. I would have to ask the following:

    As this person travels the road a few times a day, he saw the security gate unattended. Isnt that a no-no according to Homeland Security?

    Did the service provider get a dumping permit? If so, has it been determined where the materials came from? Have you contacted the Town Building Department?

    Considering the BLA and the airport came to an agreement that states that the SACL would receive 10-day prior notification of any permit issued to the airport for whatever reason, did SACL receive such notification?

    Is this another example of we dont need no stinking permits by an entity that has received three LIDAs without any job creation rationale and is suing the town because it doesnt like the lower assessment number it received from the Town Assessor?

    SACL people were notified and they took action. Notified the town code enforcer, Mr. Simme was not in so Mr. George Pease took the call and took immediate action. The airport was given a work stop order and was ticketed.

    FAA was immediately notified and they are taking action too.

    Many many neighbors, businesses and people driving by who are Lancaster residents have been keeping watchful eyes on the airport.

    Job well done for the Town Enforcement officer Mr. Pease. YES YES YES, you do need a dumping permit in Lancaster.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Chowaniec View Post
    Hey SACL, what’s going on?

    A friend informed me today that while traveling own Pavement Road he noticed dumping and grading taking place behind a house that is owned by the Buffalo-Lancaster Airport. I would have to ask the following:

    • As this person travels the road a few times a day, he saw the security gate unattended. Isn’t that a no-no according to Homeland Security?

    • Did the service provider get a dumping permit? If so, has it been determined where the materials came from? Have you contacted the Town Building Department?

    • Considering the BLA and the airport came to an agreement that states that the SACL would receive 10-day prior notification of any permit issued to the airport for whatever reason, did SACL receive such notification?

    • Is this another example of “we don’t need no stinking permits” by an entity that has received three LIDA’s without any job creation rationale and is suing the town because it doesn’t like the lower assessment number it received from the Town Assessor?
    We received a few phone calls as well regarding above activities on Monday. Unfortunately, all government offices were closed so we took action yesterday. I would like to thank George Pease for his fast reaction time. Our airport owner has always gotten away with illegal dumping in the past so why wouldn't he try to get away with it again? In any case, the security gate being left open on several occassions is what REALLY upsets residents. They claim to run a safe airport but for some reason refuse to keep the gate closed.

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    The reason the gate is an issue is we taxpayers paid over 700 thousand dollars to put up that fence. The fence is Homeland Security fencing. If the FAA installed that fence, with it comes conditions. It is called Security. It is to be treated like the security at the International airport.

    Anyone seeing the gates open at the airport are to call the FAA number is:
    1-585-436-3880 Extension 200. Carl Kohl is the enforcer for that airport.

    The fence is to be secured at all times.

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    Is This What May Happen if the Gate is Left Open?

    Airplane Stolen from Steuben County Airport:

    http://www.wgrz.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=90823

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    Bravo

    Now thats community action - Great job - stay on them.
    #Dems play musical chairs + patronage and nepotism = entitlement !

  10. #10
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    Originally posted by SAAR:
    Is This What May Happen if the Gate is Left Open?


    Airplane Stolen from Steuben County Airport:

    http://www.wgrz.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=90823
    Great find, SAAR. It's amazing it was 2 weeks before it was noticed that it was stolen. So much for Homeland Security, eh?


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by gorja View Post
    Great find, SAAR. It's amazing it was 2 weeks before it was noticed that it was stolen. So much for Homeland Security, eh?
    Pretty scary, isn't it? Buffalo Lancaster airport claims they run a secure, safe airport yet cannot keep that gate closed. I can't tell you how many times we have heard it was left opened unattended. Let's see, the Federal Government (taxpayers!!) pays to have a homeland security gate installed for what?? All it takes is for the wrong people to find out about easy access to this particular airport. I am tired of this airport being run like an amusement park.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SAAR View Post
    Airplane Stolen from Steuben County Airport:

    http://www.wgrz.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=90823
    Wow, that is a bit scarey. Now to answer your question SAAR, what would happen here in Lancaster if the gate was kept open?

    Let's hypothesize, the gate is open and a 16 year old or 17 year old or even younger gets into the open gated area and hopped on a plane and decided to take off. They are inexperienced, they turn sharp and go into a "stall" and crash....would kill the teenager and possible a house below.

    OR, it becomes easy pray for a terrorist to come in and hijack a plane put explosives in it and crash killing many people.

    Yup, just some scenerio's. Keeping the security gates closed at all times, and if open should have a security personel by that gate. Simply elementary my friend.

    Thanks for sharing SAAR.

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    Speaking of permits, the following was something I was not aware of and am sure many of you are not as well.

    At last nights Town Board work session a discussion took place on the legality of permit issuance to build sheds, pools, etc. on accessory, contiguous land acquired by Lancaster property owners.

    10 (eastside) William Square property owners purchased a large parcel of vacant land behind their homes. They split the property up so that they own the property behind them. According to Assessor Dave Marrano some of these property owners would like to put a shed up, or something else, on the back property they purchased. Marrano declared that the current code says that you can only get a permit for the primary residence property.

    Marrano said that the properties could be merged but that the assessed values would increase significantly; from rural land at $3,000 to $25,000 (per property owner). He stated that there is already a problem that the Building Department has encountered because some property owners already got permits, put up the sheds in the back property and have been cited by Building Department code enforcement officers.

    Most of the people want to do it according to code, so the question is how do they do that if they keep the properties separate, said Marrano. Is there a way of doing it without rewriting the code? If the properties are merged, then their assessment increases significantly to $25,000. Can they get a variance from the ZBA, I dont know.

    Building Department Inspector Jeff Simme declared that the code says you cannot put an accessory addition up unless its on primary use property.
    Marrano added that the purchased properties are all separate and contiguous with the primary property. He added that a lot of times people purchase land and leave it as a separate SBL piece so that it remains rural classified and the assessment is much lower. If you combine it, now you have a piece of land that is 75 x 360 and that significantly adds to the value of their land.

    They are very nice people and want to know whether they should consider going for a variance or whatever. They want the boards opinion.

    The board really had no opinion on the matter at this point but said they will do research and get back to the residents. The residents who putt up sheds on the purchased property have been told that if a solution is not found other that combining the purchased property with their primary residence property, they may have to remove the sheds.

    The Building Department issued the permits to build the sheds believing the intent was to construct the sheds on the primary property. The land purchase took place within the past several months.

    Like many others, I thought when you purchased land behind your property it gave you the right to build on it. That appears to be true only if you merge the properties into one. If the property remains rural classified, and not combined, town code disallows accessory building.

  14. #14
    Member gorja's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Lee Chowaniec:
    Like many others, I thought when you purchased land behind your property it gave you the right to build on it. That appears to be true only if you merge the properties into one. If the property remains rural classified, and not combined, town code disallows accessory building.
    I would have thought the same way. It seems owning contigious property behind your primary property, you would have the same rights on both properties regarding accessory buildings. I wonder what the premise was in creating that code.


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    Hmm, well the town makes the comments about tearing down buildings, sheds, securing overhead doors and such....I think they should find a way to appease the residents. Since they seem to find a way to appease the businesses that have violated the zoning laws.

    What you do for one should be done for the other. The permit, zoning issues are very complex and people don't quite understand the law. We are lay persons and we expect to have our officials at hand to answer the questions if they can so it helps people do the right thing.

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