Residents demand code enforcement

HANOVER – A law is just ink on paper unless it is enforced. Several residents of Sunset Bay attended the Hanover Town Board meeting Monday to ask the board to make sure that action is taken on zoning laws to prevent flooding.

Benita and Leo Szymanski of Seneca Street began asking questions about filling in property and proper drainage practices after a neighboring property owner began building a garage.

The Szymanskis brought their concerns to Hanover Code Enforcement Officer and Flood Plain Manager Thomas Gould. However, their questions went unanswered.

At this point the couple came to the town board for answers. Months and dozens of truckloads of fill later, the pair again came to the board for answers.

Benita Szymanski said she is concerned that the eave of the garage is 3 feet from the property line – two fewer than the state fire code allows. She said she is concerned that this will affect their ability to add onto their property.

She said she is also concerned about the 30 or more truckloads of slate chunks and fill that added to the grade of the property and will likely affect their property in the event of excess water from heavy rains or flooding.

She questioned whether her neighbor has gotten the proper studies, permits and approvals to do the work that has taken place.

“I don’t feel I should get a lawyer to make sure the code enforcement officer does his job,” she said. “… We have been here since 1992 and we are doing our due diligence. We want facts and documents.”

Councilman Kevin O’Connell said he was able to arrange a meeting with Gould, himself and the Szymanskis for later this week.

However, other residents also had concerns with similar activity occurring all over Sunset Bay.

Highway Superintendent Steve D’Angelo reported telling a contractor on Exchange Street he could not add fill to a property in a flood plain, but then noticed it was done overnight on the weekend.

“That is my problem,” Ann Street resident Mike Weber said. “Now my property is the lowest and I want the same opportunity they had to fill in my property, but I probably won’t get it.”

The residents all expressed concern that Local Law #1 of 1987, which was required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide flood insurance to residents.

Longtime Sunset Bay resident Frank Boniface said he remembers when the law was passed, but doesn’t remember a time when it was enforced.

“For 30 years the same complaint has come up. … Are we going to start enforcing this law?” he asked.

Councilman Bernard Feldmann Jr. asked Benita Szymanski if the proper studies and drainage were done if that would that be satisfactory. She responded that it is not because of the amount of fill.

“I don’t want to lose 2 feet of my property and I don’t want to be flooded – and I am not alone,” she said.

Weber also asked if by not enforcing the law, if the town’s FEMA flood insurance was at risk.

The board did not answer residents’ questions at the meeting.

The board will meet again July 28.