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Greenport readies lawsuit against power plant company

10/16/2015 1:24 AM |

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Greenport Village is planning to sue the engineering company that oversaw a $5.8 million upgrade of its power plant, alleging “design flaws in the engineering of the power plant,” Mayor George Hubbard said at Thursday’s meeting.

And plans for another power plant in the village that would have earned the village about $2 million per year in taxes and rent by 2030 have fallen through.

At the meeting, Village Board members briefly discussed filing a lawsuit against Genesys Engineering of Pelham, NY, which was hired to upgrade the 117-year-old power plant on Moore’s Lane several years ago.

In July, there was a three-hour power outage in the village, while in August of 2014, a power outage lasted 11 hours. The repeated outages have caused some residents to question the condition of the plant.

Meanwhile, a proposal for a peaking power plant — which would have operated during times of high demand — was also swept off the table.

Energy company Global Common had responded to a PSEG request for proposals for power generating facilities to supply power to the South Fork. While Greenport would benefit from taxes and rent, it would not have received any of the power generated by the facility.

But as it turned out, the proposal wasn’t chosen by PSEG. For now, board members said, the deal is off.

• Short-term rental discussion pushed back

With Trustee Doug Roberts absent, the Village Board decided to hold off on its discussion about a new proposed short-term rental law so that Mr. Roberts — who has been vocal about his suggestions on the subject — could participate in the discussion.

The Trustees took comments on the proposal for three months at the beginning of the year and forwarded those comments to the village Code Committee, which drew up a proposed law and submitted it to the trustees this week.

The proposal limited short-term rentals to two-family homes in the R-2 zoning district, and defined short-term rentals as being less than 30 days. it also limited short-term rentals to owner-occupied homes, meaning the owner of the building must live there while the second unit is rented short-term.

• No long-term rental permits issued?

Trustee Jack Martilotta said he and Mr. Roberts would like to see the Trustees hold a public hearing to consider repealing the village’s rental permit law.

He claimed the law, was adopted in a split vote in September of 2013, has yet to be fully implemented.

“I think there’s something not working with it,” Mr. Martilotta said Thursday. “It’s been on the books for two years now and we haven’t issued any permits.”

He questioned if the law was achieving its goal of ensuring safety in rental housing if no rental housing permits had been issued.

Mr. Hubbard said he just received information from the building department on rental permit numbers earlier in the day Thursday.

“In all, there were 257 properties which were defined as as two-family, multi-family, mixed-use, and apartment units,” he said, listing the types of properties than qualify for rental permits. “Of those, there are 21 properties with approximately 120 residential units.

Mr. Hubbard said there were 46 rental permit applications that were received and were considered incomplete, and those have been sent back by the building department and told additional paperwork was needed.

There also were 45 complete applications received, and the village is now beginning to schedule inspections of those properties, the mayor said.

Another 11 properties changed hands, nine applications needed to be processed and five of the applications were from owners of owner-occupied rentals, which don’t need a rental permit.

Only two inspections have been done so far, but the village now has a second building inspector who is certified to do inspections of the rental permit properties.

Mr. Hubbard suggested the village see how the pace of inspections and permits goes now that the village has a second permit inspector, before it considers a hearing to repeal the law.

“I think that’s more than fair,” Mr. Martilotta said.

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