State: Rockland County allowed to take over Spring Valley Building Department
In what appears to be an unprecedented move, the New York Department of State is allowing Rockland County to take over the Spring Valley Building Department.
The New York secretary of state ordered Spring Valley to begin a 90-day transition to allow the county to take over its building department, once the Rockland Board of Legislature passes a law to allow that to happen. It's up to the legislature to pass a local law to spell out how this arrangement would work.
In the directive, the state called the village's deficiencies in its code enforcement a "critical threat to the health, safety and welfare of residents."
Firefighter Jared Lloyd and a resident were both killed in a fire at Evergreen Court in Spring Valley back in March.
The decision comes just 24 hours after two members of that department were indicted on felony charges related to inspections involving the nursing home where a fire claimed two lives in March.
The state determined in 2015 that the village was not complying with fire safety and maintenance inspections, failing to require building owners to obtain appropriate permits, and failing to conduct required inspections. Since then, not much has improved
In 2020, the village failed to inspect over 200 properties (47 residences, 125 nonresidential buildings and 34 buildings with public spaces) within the required time frame.
The county executive's office and the county Legislature plan to have a meeting next week to figure out next steps.
Exclusive: Scathing letter from officials demand explanation into 'discrepancies' in Spring Valley's record keeping amid fatal fire
Statement from Illegal Housing Taskforce: “Any legislator that votes against the state takeover of Village of Spring Valley Building Department is putting Spring Valley fighters and mutual aid departments lives in danger as well as thousands of residents and commercial owners that live work and shop in the village. There is no logical reason to oppose this legislation other than politics that got us into this hellacious mess that resulted in the death of a firefighter and resident. Any legislator who votes no is to put every resident in danger.”
Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski: “The state at the end of the day in the executive law has the ability and the authority to protect the health and safety of residents and municipalities, and that's why I think you are seeing the Secretary of State take this drastic action."
State Sen. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick: “I'm excited to see this step. It's a sad day to have to have a village lose control like this but the record is really clear."