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Newstead Town Board defeats code enforcement officer law

A local law that would give the Town of Newstead’s code enforcement officer the ability to make an initial determination on what constitutes a home-based business was defeated at Monday night’s board meeting.

The law, Local Law No. 6, was defeated by a 3-2 vote, with Councilmen Justin Rooney, Richard C. Baran and Donald York casting “no” votes. Supervisor David Cummings and Councilman James Mayrose cast the “yes” votes.

Under the proposed law, residents who received the home-based business designation from the code enforcement officer would only be able to appeal to the town’s Zoning Board, whose members are appointed, and not the Town Board, Rooney said. That led to his “no” vote.

“I just feel strongly that they should be able to come to the people they elect,” he said.

Baran, who lost his re-election bid in November, was the swing vote, making a bit of splash at his last board meeting as a councilman, Rooney said.

Baran echoed Rooney’s concerns but said he was also uncomfortable with the amount of power the law would give to the code enforcement officer.

“I, for years, have felt that one person should not have that much power,” he said. “We have other people in town government who by state law have complete power, and I understand, but I don’t like that.”

For Cummings, who voted in favor of the law, it makes sense to give the code enforcement officer the designation to make the decision because the officer is involved with the town’s codes every day.

“He is out there on a daily basis, he knows how people are supposed to build things,” he said. “Who better to have a look at it?”

With the law defeated, it will go back to committee and the board will look at it again in 2014, Cummings said.

“What’s interesting is that we’ll have a new board member,” he said. “Things can change again.”

In other board news, Michael Metzger, from Metzger Civil Engineering, presented plans for the expansion of Green Kangaroo Self Storage, 13399 Main Road, during a public hearing on the expansion. The plans call for the construction of three new self-storage facilities, as well as upgrades to the septic system.

“It’s a great opportunity to make some improvements to the existing site,” Metzger said.

The board is taking public comment on the project until Jan. 13.

There will be a swearing-in of newly elected officials at 10 a.m. Wednesday.