Town Hall Notes: Southold code violators to get a visitor

Southold Town is planning to send out its building department staff to notify residents and business owners if they are violating the town code.

Supervisor Scott Russell said that the public awareness campaign could save business owners money that they might otherwise spend on illegal improvements.

The Town Board plans to meet with building department staff in two weeks to discuss the plan, which relies in part on new software called Municity that allows building inspectors with laptops to collect data on individual properties in the field. The inspectors will also be able to print out sections of the code to show property owners what they need to do to bring their properties into compliance.

Southold Town Board member Chris Talbot, who is the building inspector for Southampton Village, has been driving the enforcement effort.

He estimated at a Town Board work session Tuesday that 90 percent of business owners will comply right away if they are told they are in violation of a code provision. Currently, he said, the town’s code enforcement officer responds to complaints about possible violations but he can’t patrol the whole town.

Mr. Talbot added that Southold is probably the only town on Long Island that does not have a full-time fire marshal, and that the town will likely have to make fire safety inspector Robert Fisher’s part-time job a full-time position in the future.

As of April 1, electronics companies doing business in New York State will be required to pay for disposal of their old products. The change in the law has proved a boon for Southold Town residents, who currently pay to dispose of their old computers, televisions and other so-called “e-waste” at the Cutchogue transfer station. As of April 1, residents will be able to drop off their e-waste for free because of the new rule.

The Town Board voted Tuesday to contract with the Mount Vernon, N.Y., company WeRecycle!, which is paid by electronics manufacturers to recycle used electronics. WeRecycle! plans to pay Southold three cents a pound for e-waste brought to the Cutchogue transfer station.

Residents now pay a fee based on weight to drop off their old electronics. The town still collected 80,000 pounds of electronics last year, town waste management director James Bunchuck told the Town Board Tuesday.

Mr. Bunchuck said that WeRecycle! has been vetted by manufacturers to ensure that the company does not use child laborers to sort through the waste, an issue that came up during the debate over the new law. The company also does its processing in the United States.

Bins for free disposal of e-waste will be placed in the recycling area at the Cutchogue transfer station as of April 1.
Southold will also begin accepting leaves, brush and branches for free at the town compost facility at the Cutchogue transfer station on April 1. The six-week free grace period lasts until May 15.

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