B y Lee Tugas
At its recent combined organizational-regular meeting, the Whitehall Town Board discussed ways and means to beef up code enforcement for building permits and maintenance.
The Planning Board recommended that Jamie Huntington, town compliance officer, be given the authority to write tickets for those in violation of town code enforcement laws.
Huntington explained that roughly a year ago state law had changed his title from compliance officer to code enforcement officer. Greater authority should have come with the title change, but Huntington explained that he still operated under procedures that applied to a compliance officer.
In other words, if Huntington sees a property in violation, he basically has to shuttle back and forth between the Planning Board and the town attorney. He has no authority to issue tickets on his own, he said.
The board members agreed that the current procedural system was unacceptable. Erika Sellar Ryan, the board’s new attorney, recommended that the board grant Huntington authority to write tickets.
“The way it is supposed to work,” she said, “is that once they ignore your ticket, then you call in the town attorney.”
She added, however, that since the town shared responsibility for code enforcement with Washington County, she would have to check out whether or not Huntington could issue tickets.
In a related action, Huntington asked for and was promised to receive a copy of the town’s junkyard ordinance, an old document, but one Huntington said would be helpful in a case involving a residence on County Route 12, where the owner is “hoarding” lumber and other materials.
Supervisor George Armstrong told Huntington that the board could quickly supply him with the junk yard ordinance. The code enforcement officer will have to wait until the next meeting of the board to find out if he can write tickets or not.