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Russell: Southold Needs To Redefine Code Enforcement Officer Position

Board wants to clarify the role of code enforcement in town.

Since Southold Town Zoning Inspector Damon Rallis took a new position as plans examiner for the town on Jan. 1, the town has had no official full-time point person to deal with complaints regarding potential town code violations — the duty of a zoning inspector or a code enforcement officer, according to job descriptions on the Civil Service Employee Union’s website.

At this week’s Southold Town Board work session, Supervisor Scott Russell gave the board an update on his goal to re-create and ultimately fill the position. Ed Forrester, Southold Town’s last director of code enforcement, retired four years ago.

“This job needs to be clear from the beginning as to what it entails,” Russell told the board on Tuesday. “Who will supervise the code enforcement officer — that board? The town attorney? The building department? Police?”

Russell and department heads from the Planning, Building and Zoning Board of Appeals departments have been meeting over the past few weeks to discuss how to better approach code enforcement — an issue that has been in the news lately surrounding Satur Farms, Vineyard 48, and the ever-present illegal dumping of trash in town-provided cans at road ends.

“This is a very important position, and proper training is key,” Russell said. “We need to better streamline how complaints are received and how they are handled.”

Russell added that the town board needs to decide if future code enforcement will be complaint-driven as it has been in the past, or if  the town “wants to be more assertive about enforcing the code.

“The board is looking to create a position that involves much more then simply responding to complaints,” Russell later wrote Patch in an email. “The position will not only respond to complaints that come it but will also take an affirmative role in going out and ensuring compliance with the code.”

Russell said that the new position will require working outside of the normal business hours of town government, and that ultimately the role will need to be filled by more than one person.

What do you think? Tell us in the comments.

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James Spanos February 02, 2013 at 11:25 AM
Bravo!! It's about time.
gwen February 02, 2013 at 02:01 PM
Code enforcement is effective if there is an attitude that the code should be enforced without exception. One situation involves Santa's Christmas Tree Farm at the top of Pequash Ave. in Cutchogue running a large retail business in what is /was an ag/residential zone. The "powers that be" were pro-business to the extent that it was understood that occasional mild threats were all that was expected of Mr. Forrester. The situation had some sort of legal resolution in the end. It's a popular business, and a fine addition to the community. But the result was no proper site plan, and the result of that is a dangerous traffic situation at the intersection of the Main Road and Pequash. The westbound turning lane south onto Pequash is often occupied by eastbound vehicles waiting to turn north into Santa's driveway, which is clearly a problem. Locals know to watch out for visitors from the west trying to get into Santa's and not understanding the confusing turning lane situation, but there have been many accidents over the years. It is particularly silly because the xmas tree property has a farm road leading off Depot Lane, which would be an obvious solution to the ingress/egress problem. So, yes, let's give code enforcement some teeth and resolve the Satur, V48 and Santa's issues. There are only going to be more businesses starting and growing in Southold Town in years to come, and legal situations are way more expensive for taxpayers than code enforcement officers.
Marty February 02, 2013 at 02:38 PM
You are partially correct, but the real story is more sinister. The town took the tree farm all the way to Supreme Court and won (after spending a lot of your money). The judge ruled in favor of the town and, as a result, was ordered shut down. Sadly, the pro-business administration that you speak of felt bad and, in the end, granted him a variance as a "farm stand" - if thats a farm stand, I have a bridge for sale. How can there be code enforcement when things like that happen.
Southold town resident February 02, 2013 at 07:16 PM
And at the same time could the CEO enforce Southold Town's Sign laws as well.?
James Spanos February 02, 2013 at 07:17 PM
When the town push people into court on our tax dollar it's a crime. I love this town and have been tying to work with the dysfunctional building department for years. There are many examples of unequal coad enforcement. What about the guy that is running a commercial business by Magic Fountain in Mattituck? That place is zoned residential on one lot and the other one is light industrial. He's doing whatever he wants and nobody messes with him. Most people don't know the whole story about government bullies.
James Cope February 02, 2013 at 09:08 PM
I trust and support Supervisor Russell's efforts to improve local code enforcement. Jim Cope Eastmarion
Marty February 02, 2013 at 09:32 PM
I would love to hear the whole story.
Steven Anderson February 03, 2013 at 02:20 AM
And also let's have more serious punishment for DWI repeat offenders,right Gwen.
Hope and Change February 04, 2013 at 02:06 PM
I believe the supervisor's push to have all code enforcement officers wear YELLOW GARGAGE BAGS on the job is perfectly in line with his YELLOW GARGAGE BAG approach to town government.
nawthfawk February 06, 2013 at 02:57 AM
That was really hateful and uncalled for.

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