GUEST VIEWPOINT: County Executive’s Corner: ‘Office of Buildings and Codes’
Ed Day | February 23, 2022
My administration and Rockland County government achieved the impossible; in only three months, Rockland launched a brand-new County Office of Buildings and Codes.
I want everyone to know that this has been an incredibly difficult, detailed, and time-consuming process to create an entirely new office within county government.
It was only 90 days ago that my administration was ordered by the New York State Department of State to undertake this unprecedented task of assuming the functions and responsibilities of the Spring Valley Building Department, following years of code enforcement issues.
I want to make it clear that the County of Rockland has no interest in permanently operating the village’s building department. Our mission is to fix it and move on, and in fact, the state order directs us to work towards that result which is exactly why we created an Intermunicipal Agreement with Spring Valley.
It lays the groundwork for a smooth transition of this department under our control which ultimately will result in a smooth transition back to Spring Valley when New York State returns it to the village.
The agreement with Spring Valley outlines our expectations and the requirements of our working relationship including accessing their recordkeeping program and allowing their existing building and fire inspectors to report to and work for the county.
The inclusion of fully vetted, existing village inspectors is beneficial because they know local conditions best and with proper oversight, training, and direction they will help speed up this process significantly, including for the eventual return of this function to the village as directed by the state.
I promise the people of Rockland that my top goal in fulfilling 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 not hesitate to issue substantial fines to those in violation of state codes and do whatever necessary to bring everyone up to compliance.
Let me be clear, fines are not the goal they are just a tool to ensure compliance and correct dangerous conditions that put lives at risk.
I couldn’t be prouder of the person we selected to undertake this effort, Mr. Ed Markunas. He is incredibly qualified to oversee this new office and serve as its director. Not only is he a man of impeccable character and the highest integrity but he also served in the NYPD, the United States Coast Guard, was Mayor of the Village of Suffern, managed Suffern’s Building Department and launched its Code Initiative Program. I have full faith in his ability to resolve many of the issues facing the residents and businesses of spring valley.
There are over 800 outstanding inspections that we must tackle out of the gate. To get the job done right, this office will be operating under a strict zero-tolerance policy to get through the backlog, with 20 certified code inspectors and several support staff ready to go.
The Office of Buildings and Codes has instituted a 30-day moratorium which will end on March 15, 2022, on any new permit applications while the office conducts a comprehensive review of all outstanding violations.
This allows us to quickly resolve issues that pose an imminent threat to life, health, and safety. We’re not here to punish anyone everything we are doing is to achieve compliance to ensure safety while protecting life and property.
The Office requests all interested parties begin submitting complaints by calling 845-364-3700 or e-mailing BuildingsAndCodes@co.rockland.ny.us.