A Middleburgh woman is facing jail time and possibly thousands of dollars in fines — not for breaking criminal law, but for getting her flood-damaged house fixed without a permit.
Anne Notaro is fretting over an Oct. 23 court date at which she’ll face a judge and answer to charges that she needed a permit for a contractor to replace her front porch, a small part of the roughly $29,000 worth of repairs paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
And Notaro won’t be heading down to Village Hall to try to work it out anytime soon — she’s afraid of the village’s code enforcement officer.
“The man scares me. I get nervous. He blew up on me on the telephone,” she said.
For Notaro, 57, a 19-year member of the Middleburgh Emergency Volunteer Ambulance Corps, it took about a year to get full use of her house on Main Street in the village. The porch repair was the final step in the process.
Floodwater was 4 feet deep in the cellar of her house after Tropical Storm Irene blew through, and she had her furnace and hot water heater replaced in addition to foundation work. Flooring had to be replaced inside the home, too. Notaro said she had to pay for the flooring and a new driveway herself.
The house had to be raised and part of a new foundation poured in the front before she could get back into her living room.
The old, damaged porch had to be removed so contractors could pour the foundation, and her contractor replaced the porch, this time raising the railings to meet current codes.
None of the other work done to the home is mentioned in several citations that continue to be mailed to Notaro’s house — only “construction without permits” written on a form with no precise date of the alleged crime.
The last note she got from Village Code Enforcement Officer Lloyd Stannard says the date of the violation was Aug. 14, 2013.
Neither the village’s website nor the Schoharie County directory provide contact information for the code enforcement officer, or even identify him by name. A message left for Stannard at Village Hall wasn’t returned Monday.
It may be confusion on Notaro’s part — she recalls hearing talk in the weeks after Tropical Storm Irene about permit requirements being suspended. Localities didn’t need permits to drag bulldozers into creeks, nor did homeowners working to pull debris out of nearby streams.
Regardless, Notaro says she has no intention of paying a permit fee. She went to an initial court date in August, told the judge she wanted a lawyer and hired attorney Michael Shultes to take her case.
Shultes declined to comment Monday.
She won’t talk to Stannard, who she alleges talks to her inappropriately and with foul language.
Notaro said she’s paid for permits in the past, such as when she installed some fencing years before the flood, but she believes permits were not required when residents were putting their lives together following tropical storms Irene and Lee.
Middleburgh Mayor Matthew Avitabile on Monday said he was unable to comment on the case beyond saying “it is a current court case.”
He said there are pertinent details in the law that Notaro is accused of violating. He was unable to provide a copy of the law and said Stannard would have a copy.
None of the village’s codes or laws are available on its website.
Work being done under the coordination of Schoharie Area Long Term is being done with permits, according to SALT Director Sarah Goodrich.
She said fines for not getting permits are not among the list of difficulties faced by flood victim in cases she’s been involved in. They’re rare, she said.
A divorcee with two children, Notaro worked as a mental health therapy aide but had to retire after injuries she received in a crash on Interstate 88 in the winter of 2012.
She is now on disability.
She said she wrote letters to the offices of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and to federal legislators, hoping to secure some help with her case. There’s been no response, she said.