In his State of the Town address Wednesday, North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman said the town was in solid financial shape — and then spent a good portion of his speech talking about the building department.
Rocked by a 2007 corruption scandal that led to three convictions, the department has been criticized of late as being too severe and harsh in the permitting process, which can drag on for months.
Kaiman said Wednesday he has begun meeting with architects, builders, developers and his staff to discuss ways to honor the code while moving permits along swiftly. Where violations are found they cannot be overlooked, as perhaps they were in the past, he said.
But following the code cannot be the singular focus, he said.
“We have learned that even strict enforcement, ultimate code compliance and intense investigation are not the only goals,” Kaiman said in his speech. “We have learned that we need to respect the impact of our policies on our residents and businesses.”
Kaiman said he’s convening a March conference at a date to be determined to hear ways the department can be more user-friendly while ensuring homes comply with building codes.
“It is not simply about enforcement,” he said. “It is also about process, timing, cost and how we treat people. It is about how the town can help people get their problems solved and their project completed.”