Rockland County Office of Buildings and Codes Update
My administration’s brand-new Office of Buildings and Codes has been working tirelessly following the official takeover of the Building Department in the Village of Spring Valley on February 14, 2022. The New York State Department of State Ordered Rockland County to assume full control of functions and responsibilities of the Village’s Building Department, following years of code enforcement issues.
Since assuming control, the new Office has completed 54 inspections and is continuing to play catchup on over 800 outstanding inspections, prioritized by safety concerns.
In just the first few weeks, the Rockland County Office of Buildings and Codes cited one Spring Valley property for at least 17 hazardous code violations. This one property was housing nine families, about two dozen people, including five children. These families were living in makeshift rooms that included the front entryway, unfinished basement space and the attic. Many of these illegally converted spaces were unheated forcing tenants to utilize space heaters to stay warm along with hazardous illegal electrical wiring throughout the home.
The Office also shut down an unlicensed nightclub. The location operated as Sharp Shirt Printing by day but charged admission for illegal parties by night, which included dancers, alcohol, and hookah. As I’ve said repeatedly, we will be ensuring strict enforcement of New York State Building and Fire Code within the Village of Spring Valley and shutting down this illegal club is a prime example of that. As a former police commander, I remember the arson fire that broke out in the unlicensed Bronx club Happy Land back in 1990, killing 87 people, and will do everything in my power to stop a tragedy of that magnitude from happening here in Rockland County.
The Office of Buildings and Codes continues to enforce a 30-day moratorium which will end on March 15, 2022, on any new permit applications. While we know this moratorium inconveniences some, it allows our new Office to continue resolving outstanding inspections.
I want to be clear that we are operating with a people first approach. We are only vacating the few homes that pose an imminent threat to life, health, and safety. Our new Office is working closely with not-for-profits, the Rockland County Department of Social Services, and other organizations, so that if we must remove residents from a dangerous living condition, we can quickly place them in safe, stable housing if needed.
My number one priority since being directed to fulfil this Order from New York State is to protect the health and safety of village residents, visitors and first responders. To do that, the County will continue to operate this office under a zero-tolerance policy for our inspectors and will not hesitate to issue substantial fines to those in violation of state codes to bring everyone into compliance.
While fines are not the goal, they will be used to ensure compliance and correct dangerous conditions putting lives at risk. We continue to urge anyone and everyone to submit complaints to the new office by calling 845-364-3700 or emailing BuildingsAndCodes@co.rockland.ny.us