Schenectady County

Habitual violators facing bigger fines in Schenectady

The Schenectady City Council is cracking down on owners who don’t take care of their property. Those

The Schenectady City Council is cracking down on owners who don’t take care of their property.

Those who are convicted of one code violation and then commit another will be hit by a higher fine even if the violation is at a different building or is committed many years later, the council decided in a unanimous vote at Monday’s meeting.

Previously, fines only increased if a second violation occurred within 18 months at the same address. But many of the city’s worst offenders own a dozen or more rental properties throughout the city that have been cited for code violations. Under the old rules, they could avoid higher fees despite repeated violations because the incidents were at separate buildings.

The new rules apply for all city codes, including the housing code, building code and fire code.

Recently, the council also hiked fees for contractors who are caught working without a permit.

“Some of it is to reflect our costs, and to create some disincentive,” said Acting Mayor Gary McCarthy. “It’s all part of fine-tuning of the enforcement. We want higher compliance. We want people to take pride in [their property] and maintain it in a manner that not only adds value to the property but to the neighborhood.”

On Monday, the council also banned satellite dishes from front yards and any space between the house and a street, essentially requiring owners to keep the dishes on the roof.

The council loosened the rules for boat owners. They are now allowed to place one boat and trailer in their yard, as long as it’s not in the front yard. Camping trailers and RVs can also be stored outside — but only one, and it can’t be used while it’s parked.

Several city residents attended Monday’s meeting to thank city workers for pumping out basements and cleaning away debris after the floods. But two residents complained that East Front Street was left flooded for an inordinate period of time.

McCarthy explained after the meeting that the city used 40 pumps — many donated by General Electric, Carver Construction and other companies — to move the water back to the river. On East Front Street, workers had to build a road behind the houses, clearing a berm, to place several special pumps that finally cleared the flood, he said.

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