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Scarsdale Board Addresses Building Issues

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – Education is the key to understanding. That was the message that came out of Monday night's Village Hall meeting called to discuss land use and building department issues, according to Scarsdale Assistant Village Manager John Goodwin.

The meeting was a continuation of a Feb. 22 meeting between the Village Board of Trustees, village staff and residents who were upset about building issues and the way village staff handles complaints.

Monday's meeting was well-attended, Goodwin said, as residents pressed village officials to find a way to better communicate construction plans that might affect their properties.

"They want us to find some sort of system to communicate what's going on with their neighbors," Goodwin said, adding that it was suggested that "some sort of handbook" would help guide residents looking to address issues.

The meeting also served to educate residents about why the building department is unable, in many cases, to remedy their complaints.

Toril Hanna of Saxon Woods Road said Wednesday she was "devastated" by Monday's meeting because it became apparent to her that laws were keeping Scarsdale's building department and boards from being able to address her major concerns, which have to do with drainage.

"Their hands are tied because of laws," she said, adding that she is ready to apologize to Village Building Department Chief Nunzio Pietrosanti, a prime target of her anger at the Feb. 22 meeting, saying he could not respond to her complaints because he had to stick to codes.

"If he had said anything, he could have wound up in trouble," she said.

Pietrosanti and Hanna have had an ongoing written debate over drainage issues and that debate spilled over into the meeting Feb. 22. While the Board of Trustees Municipal Services Committee would not allow him to respond during that meeting, Pietrosanti issued a written, point-by-point defense the next day to Hanna's complaints and to a petition started by Ruth Frankel and signed by some 200 people citing the laws, codes and board decisions that applied in each case.

Hanna said she knows "Village Hall and the Board of Trustees are making a good effort" to address taxpayer concerns about building issues, and said she would continue to address the issues to help find an answer.

"I guess it was a successful meeting," she said. 'I was frustrated, but it made me consider other things."

Pietrosanti declined to comment about Monday's meeting.

Goodwin said the Village Board of Trustees has asked village staff to research what other towns in the area are doing when it comes to building permits.

"The board wants to understand the process," he said. Goodwin also said the board wants the law committee to study the situation to see if any laws need tightening.

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