2012-03-22 / Front Page

Unsafe buildings local law approved

by PAUL OLCZAK
Editor


The former site of Jackson’s Bowling Alley on Whaley Avenue is one of two main reasons why the Village of East Aurora approved a local law regarding unsafe buildings at Monday night’s meeting, said Mayor Allan Kasprzak. 
Photo by Daniel RosatiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com The former site of Jackson’s Bowling Alley on Whaley Avenue is one of two main reasons why the Village of East Aurora approved a local law regarding unsafe buildings at Monday night’s meeting, said Mayor Allan Kasprzak. Photo by Daniel RosatiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Property owners of buildings deemed “unsafe” in East Aurora could now be subject to a minimum fine of $1,000 or a maximum term of imprisonment of five months, or both.

The Village Board passed a local law regarding unsafe buildings after a public hearing on Monday night.

“Unsafe buildings pose a threat to the health and safety of the residents of the Village of East Aurora,” the purpose of the law reads in part, noting that the village intends to provide “a procedure and process to deal with unsafe buildings by requiring that they be either repaired or demolished and removed.”

The law names Code Enforcement Officer William Kramer as the primary village official to carry out the law. Once he deems a building “unsafe” and reports it back to the Village Board, a sign would be posted at each entrance to the building. The notice will remain there until the required repairs are made or the structure is demolished.

It also makes it unlawful for anyone to remove the signs without first getting written permission from the code enforcement officer and for anyone to enter the structure except for the purposes of repair or demolition.

The law also spells out 10 specific instances in which a building can be deemed unsafe. Some of these include damage by elements of nature, “improperly distributed loads upon the floors or roofs,” or lack of adequate facilities for ingress and egress in the case of a fire or other emergency. Any building that “remains vacant and unattended continuously” for more than one year, “without adequate safeguards to prevent unauthorized entry,” is also deemed unsafe.

Whenever the code enforcement officer deems a building unsafe under the law, he or she must provide written notice to the property owner, as well as the East Aurora Fire Department and Village Board. Once served with a written notice, the owner then has 14 days to begin to secure, repair, remove, and/or demolish the building, and 30 days from receipt to complete any required actions.

The law does spell out an exception for a building or structure that has been damaged by a fire, explosion or natural disaster. In these cases, East Aurora Fire Chief Roger LeBlanc would be obligated to notify Kramer of such an occurrence immediately following the incident. The property owner would then have no more than eight hours to secure the building against access by unauthorized persons and 10 days to clear the site of debris “incident to the occurrence.” Within 30 days, the owner would be required to notify the code enforcement officer of his or her intent to either demolish the structure or rebuild it.

There is also a provision in the law allowing the Village Board to authorize the code enforcement officer to “immediately cause” repairs or a demolition on any building or structure the Village Board determines would pose “a clear and imminent danger to the life, safety, or health of persons and/or property” unless it were to be immediately repaired or demolished.

Also, if a building more than 50 years old is deemed unsafe, the East Aurora Historic Preservation Commission must review it before recommending whether or not it requires demolition or repairs. However, it also says that a review would not be needed if the structure “poses an imminent danger in the reasonable, good faith judgment” of the Village Board and the code enforcement officer.

If the village incurs any expenses during the proceedings of repairs or demolition, the cost would be assessed upon the real property where the building or structure is located and made a tax lien as defined under the state’s Real Property Law. It would then be levied and collected in the same manner under Village Law.

Mayor Allan Kasprzak said the law will give both Kramer and LeBlanc “something with teeth” behind them.

“This way, they know they have the support of the Village Board behind them,” he said.

Kasprzak said the law was prompted by the years of discussion regarding what to do about the old Jackson’s Bowling Alley on Whaley Avenue and the old garage at the corner of Fillmore Avenue and Riley Street.

Just by talking about the law, he said, the village has already seen some movement with each one, as the caretakers of the garage have installed a new roof and glass block windows. Furthermore,

Kasprzak said the owners of Jackson’s are currently obtaining a demolition permit from the village.

“Just by talking about the issue, we’ve gotten results,” he said.

East Aurora firefighter Craig Thrasher called the law “very important.”

“It will be very helpful to us and I’m sure to Bill Kramer as well,” he told the board.

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