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Sch’dy landlord is misinformed about rental inspection law

Sunday, March 31, 2013
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Sch’dy landlord is misinformed about rental inspection law

Re Mohamed A. Hafez’ March 24 letter, “La-la-land” another name for Schenectady”: I found it interesting that according to this letter writer’s statements, rental unit inspections are illegal per the U.S. Supreme Court.

As a former Virginia resident for 11 years, that state is apparently violating this requirement, as every rental unit in Virginia must be inspected prior to being leased.

In fact, the letter writer is incorrect: The 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523 (1967), had nothing to do with the legality of a city/town/county rental inspection law as it relates to the landlord; that case dealt directly with a tenant being held on criminal charges for failure to allow the rental inspectors access to the apartment.

The Supreme Court stated that the tenant had no legal reasoning to allow the inspectors in without a warrant, per the Fourth Amendment. The entire rental inspection process was not, however, thrown out and made illegal, just that one portion.

There is also no judicial decision that I can find that occurred in 1981, stating that these inspections in New York are illegal. In fact, the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code discusses inspections; in 2007 the code was amended only regarding inspections of one- and two-family homes; inspections of larger dwellings are certainly allowed.

In fact, this entire discussion is silly. After having done a cursory Internet search and having lived in other states, rental inspections should be mandatory by every state and municipality. I am rather appalled that Virginia, the state I left that is in the bottom of many categories that New York is in the top of (literacy, education, wages, etc), is ahead of a few landlords in Schenectady. New York is supposed to be a progressive state. Virginia? Not so much. But they’ve got the city of Schenectady by leaps and bounds when it comes to rental inspection. Sad.

The only reason I can think of for a landlord not wanting a city inspector to check a unit is not money (consider it a cost of doing business), but that the unit is not up to code and the landlord is afraid of being found out. Well, upgrade your unit or get out of the business if you cannot abide by the law.

This discussion needs to be over so the city of Schenectady can stop being a laughingstock.

Stacey Shinske

Glenville

Fracking hardly the only source of river sediment

The March 21 fly-fishing story, “Study shows sediment in streams from fracking causes problems,” is unduly inflammatory and argumentative in both title and content.

We all know the emotional divisiveness brought about by the prolonged study and assessment of gas development by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Health.

Morgan Lyle’s story adds to the demagoguery by targeting industrial activity associated with fracking as the predominant activity associated with sedimentary loading of streams and channels in Pennsylvania.

Any construction activity can disturb soil, which, if not properly stabilized or screened, can enter waterways as sediment. This construction can be from home building, development of a new shopping center, even farming. The allegation that federal regulations lack in this area is untrue.

Both the state DEC and federal Environmental Protection Agency require stormwater management plans to mitigate sediment for any construction activities that disturb over one-half acre of land. While an economic evolution is occurring in many other states due to the development of natural gas, New York is being left behind. Gas development would be a blessing to the economically depressed Southern Tier region and the state as a whole.

Inflammatory articles such as this one only add to the misinformation on the benefits of developing a clean, domestically produced energy source.

Ed Leighton

Niskayuna

Plenty of birds in Schenectady’s Bellevue

I have been following the articles regarding the lack of birds, and am writing to say that the bird (and squirrel) population is alive and well in the Bellevue area of Schenectady.

I do feed the birds year-round, and they have easy access to swoop onto the top of a large, severed tree trunk upon which I place the seed, but the birds (and squirrels) consume at least five cups of seed per day. In addition, I have seen all kinds of birds throughout the winter, including cardinals, blue jays and mourning doves.

Last spring, robins built a nest right on our front porch, causing us to discontinue using the front porch for several weeks until the baby robins were strong enough to fly away. It appears this may happen again this year, as I have seen robins busily darting back and forth already.

Hopefully, we will once again be privy to watching nature unfold up-close.

Gail Kitchen

Schenectady

Canal Corp. kowtows too much to yacht owners

I enjoyed Mr. Harbour’s recent comments on the taxpayer-funded state barge canal.

I remember Brian Stratton’s comment (soon after obtaining his political appointment as Canal Corp. director) about the financial impact of the canal to the state; I believe [he estimated] around $175 million annually. I would like to see the substantiating fiscal evidence, especially here upstate.

Here in Montgomery County, the few millionaires’ yachts that do dock overnight are pretty much self-contained and don’t need frequent stocking of supplies. Also, some docks are not within walking distance of stores, restaurants, tourist attractions, etc., where [boat owners] could spend their money if they wanted to.

In addition, the speed limit was removed for their convenience, so they are actually encouraged to spend less time here. But a bigger problem is that increased speed facilitates bank erosion. Hundreds of acres throughout the state are deposited in the Hudson and beyond. Farmers are paying taxes on land that all taxpayers pay to dredge from the mouth of the Hudson.

I bet you didn’t know the state could practice eminent domain without the landowner’s knowledge or agreement, which is pretty much the case. All agricultural land along the canal has been substantially reduced by the large wakes, either by complete elimination or by such severe undercutting that farm equipment can not even approach the banks, as was done in the past.

Also, the state has not dredged the canal in over 60 years, so the controlled level has to be increased so the valuable yachts don’t damage their hulls, further eroding the banks.

Common sense should allow that a farmer could stabilize his banks with stone (as the state does along highways). The taxpayer-funded state Department of Environmental Conservation has made this practice illegal, punishable by substantial fines and penalties.

Instead of being punished, all farmers and any landowners should be compensated for their loss, and the state should stabilize the banks to control further erosion. But of course then they would increase tolls on the taxpayer-funded state Thruway.

Clay Carpenter

Fonda

Arafat didn’t belong on podium with Obama

When President Obama spoke at the University of Notre Dame a few years ago, he insisted that Notre Dame cover the cross and any other religious symbols.

This past week, during his Middle East trip, the president gave a speech at the so-called West Bank (formerly known as Judea and Samaria). Above the president’s podium was a banner (uncovered!) of a picture of Yasar Arafat, known as the father of modern terrorism.

This speaks volumes about President Obama’s beliefs and values.

Timothy J. Gaffney Sr.

Rotterdam

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comments

March 31, 2013
11:24 p.m.
ThePhilistine says...

Stacey Shinske, your google search is not impressive. Thinking money is not an issue just because you want to call the fees "The cost of doing business" proves your ignorance. In Schenectady taxes, fees, inspections, eviction costs and other "costs of doing business" are killing businesses.

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