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Westbury mayor: Make it easier to catch code cheats

The Village of Westbury has received $200,000 in

The Village of Westbury has received $200,000 in state funding to resurface and improve local roads. Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

Westbury officials said they hope to change a law requiring the village to send written notice to suspected code violators before seeking a court-issued search warrant.

Officials usually request permission to search homes where they suspect illegal activity, Mayor Peter Cavallaro said. But the law requires the village to send a notice through certified mail before the village seeks a search warrant.

“The law requires us to tip them off, that we’re on to them,” Cavallaro said.

The local law change would eliminate that step.

“If we bring enough evidence to the judge, he grants us a search warrant ... he makes sure we’re not violating anybody’s rights,” Cavallaro said. “That should be enough; we shouldn’t, on top of all that, have to warn them [property owners] we’re coming, to frustrate our investigation.”

The letter tells a homeowner that the village will seek the search warrant if the homeowner does not submit to the inspection and has stymied investigations, he said.

Often the letter enables “the person operating a rooming house an opportunity to clean it up before coming in there and remove evidence it’s operated illegally,” the mayor said. “That’s the purpose of the change, to get a search warrant without tipping them off before time.”

There will be a public hearing on the issue at Thursday’s village board meeting, starting at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall.

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