OSWEGO, NY – At its meeting Monday night, the Planning and Development Committee forwarded a resolution to the full council to enhance public safety by relaxing a section of the city code.
Kevin Caraccioli, city attorney, requested Common Council consideration in amending the provisions of Article XIII, Section C13-07 of the Charter of the City of Oswego with respect to amendments to local laws 2 and 6 of the Year 2015 to provide an exception to the requirements that property owners must pay all monies owed to the city of Oswego prior to the issuance of a permit.
The exception pertains to instances where, in the opinion of the Director of Code Enforcement, the condition of the property constitutes harm to the life, safety or general welfare of the public; the issuance of a permit is necessary to immediately address the notice of remedy and correct the harmful condition of the property.
Currently, the city requires applicants to be paid up on any bills owed to the city before being granted construction or use of public space permits.
“It is a very ridged law that requires adherence,” Caraccioli said of the section of the charter. “In the case of a building that is falling into disrepair and this section prohibits the person from making needed repairs it is challenging at best for them to get a permit to do the work or in some cases demolish the building without first demonstrating that they paid all monies owed to the city of Oswego.”
The proposed amendments would address the health, life or safety issues, he explained.
What they are proposing is a charter revision that would authorize and empower the Director of Code Enforcement to grant those exceptions in that limited instance where it’s determined to be a life and safety issue, he said.
That is what they are looking for, he added, not a way for people to get around the code.
They would still have to comply with the provisions of the charter before they got a permit to do anything else, he said.
“What we’re talking about here is a life and safety issue,” he told the committee. “It could become a liability issue for the city if we were not to at least recognize the need for some section to address this,” he said.
At times, her hands were tied, Susan Deary, the city Codes Director said, adding that the proposal would give her more latitude when it comes to dealing with issues concerning dangerous buildings where immediate action is needed.
The exception wouldn’t absolve the person from complying with the provisions of the charter, the city attorney noted.
Things will be handled on a case by case basis, he said, adding that the key issue will be life and safety of the public.
The amendments would be: Notwithstanding the provisions contained in this section to the contrary, when in the opinion of the director of code enforcement the issuance of a permit is necessary to prevent harm to life, safety or the general welfare of the public, the director of code enforcement shall be authorized to issue said permit for the sole and exclusive purpose of bringing such violations into compliance with the code of the city of Oswego. Nothing contained herein shall relieve the property owner from complying with all other applicable sections of the code including, without limitation, the provisions contained in this section.
The matter now moves to the full council for discussion where it is expected a public hearing on the proposal will be scheduled for some time in April.