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Council Approves Reinstating Oswego’s Zoning Enforcement Officer

OSWEGO, NY – The Common Council voted 6-1-1 Monday night to approve reinstatement of the city Zoning Enforcement Officer.

Shawn Walker, Fourth Ward, cast the lone nay vote and Mike Myers, Second Ward, was absent.

At last week’s committee meeting, Walker noted he was opposed to adding the salary and benefits back on the city’s payroll while residents are finding it difficult to make ends meet in these hard economic times.

The handful of residents who spoke during the public session, however, were in support of the position. They pointed out several reasons why the city needed this position.

Paul Stewart pointed to neighborhood problems such as parking. It him a year to get the problem addressed, he said, adding “it shouldn’t take that long.”

When his brothers visited, they observed, “It’s like this town has no self respect,” he said. “This town should have self respect. We have to enforce our zoning.”

He also pointed out that several professionals who work in Oswego don’t live here.

Steven Phillips said most people in Oswego follow the rules.

But, there are some who don’t, he said, adding “it is for those people that we need this position.”

Anastasia Gagas also spoke in support of the position. The problems around the city need to be rectified, she said.

The Neighborhood Quality of Life Committee recommended the reinstatement of the city Zoning Enforcement Officer.

According to Connie Cosemento, chair, the group’s long-term goal is to increase the number of owner-occupied homes in the Port City.

Re-instating the zoning officer position will help make the city more attractive to families looking to move into the city, she noted.

Oswego’s zoning enforcement officer position (funding) was eliminated but the job description was held for future consideration, she said. During the last 12 years or so, code enforcement, the police and fire departments, councilors, the DPW, animal control and zoning have assumed the duty of enforcement, Cosemento explained.

Zoning issues should be addressed by a zoning enforcement officer, she told the council.

“This will give the city a better look,” she said.

The zoning violations need to be brought into compliance and the best person to do this is the zoning enforcement officer, Cosemento said.

“It is the committee’s belief that the conditions of the city will pay for itself in the long run,” she said.

The city chamberlain was authorized to complete a 2012 General Fund Operating Budget amendment upon the hiring of a Zoning Enforcement Officer to the appropriate accounts proportionally based on the date of hire – but not to exceed the following amounts: Zoning Personal Services ($49,391), Fica-Medicare ($3,779), retirement ($7,804) and health insurance ($17,726).