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North Hempstead board extends building permit amnesty

The town board has extended an amnesty program that allows building department applicants in North Hempstead to bring unauthorized work up to code and avoid stiff penalties.

The board voted 6-0 on Tuesday to suspend for another year fees usually associated with maintaining unpermitted building and plumbing work. Such fees are four times the regular building department fee, some of which are $50 to $100, depending on the construction costs. The amnesty program was established in July 2012 to encourage applicants to have work approved. It expired at the end of 2013.

The town imposed harsh penalties in the wake of a corruption scandal several years earlier. But residents and businesses complained of hardships and delays in filings and permit issuances, leading to the first amnesty program.

"We're not here to penalize people," said Anna Kaplan, a Democratic councilwoman. "We just want to make sure the work that is done in homes is done safely."

The two Republicans on the board proposed a two-year extension of the amnesty but settled on the one-year reprieve, said Dina De Giorgio, a GOP councilwoman.

De Giorgio said she was encouraged by Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth's plan to amp up publicity efforts about the amnesty program.

Bosworth, supervising her second board meeting, nearly missed an opportunity to vote. As new town clerk Wayne Wink asked each council member to declare his or her vote, he called "Supervisor Newburger," referring to the late May Newburger, who ran the town from 1994 to 2003 and died in 2012.

"Well, we're both here," Bosworth said as the room filled with laughter.

Wink then joked, "It's all downhill from here."

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