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Terms set for judges on the town code violations panel

Some code violation cases in Huntington will be

Some code violation cases in Huntington will be heard by the town instead of criminal court. Credit: Raychel Brightman

Terms have been set for a new panel of judges and other details are being ironed out as Huntington creates a different way for residents to settle code violations. 

The town board voted March 31 to establish staggered terms for the administrative law judges who will serve on the Bureau of Administrative Adjudication and limited the number of such judges to five, with an option for an additional three to be appointed in the future. Those judges will serve terms of two, three, four and five years. All appointments to the bureau will be done by director Josh Price.

Price, who will be paid $60,000 in the part-time position, led a series of virtual meetings last month with town department heads to establish procedures for each department to issue notices of violations and to get input on how those departments can better use technology to support the court once it’s up and running.

“The overriding theme of all the meetings was how to make the newly created court as constituent friendly as possible,” town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci said.

Lupinacci said some of the departments included in the video conferences were engineering, building, public safety and the town attorney’s office. 

Two public hearings updating town code as it relates to the bureau were moved to May 20 because of the pandemic. The updates include recognizing that certain departments have the authority to issue notices of violation and setting monetary penalties for trespassing violations and clarifying that such violations will be adjudicated by the bureau.

The bureau was established last fall to hear all code and ordinance violations related to conditions that constitute a threat or danger to the public health, safety or welfare. It won’t hear cases involving building code violations.

Municipal violations are currently considered criminal charges. A zoning violation for having an accessory apartment without a permit is dealt with in Third District court. Under the bureau, someone who chooses to fight a citation will go before a hearing. Price would determine guilt and assess a possible fine. Administrative law judges comprising a panel of three will hear appeals. The bureau will meet once each week to start, town officials said.

Lupinacci said Price has also been working on creating rules that will govern the court.

“He’s drafted a set of rules that he will be sending to the town attorney’s office for comment and suggestions,” Lupinacci said. “He should be ready to publish the rules within the next few weeks.”

Lupinacci also said a personnel resolution will be passed to create administrative law judge positions before hiring can begin. The salary for those positions has not yet been set.

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