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Scarsdale Building Chief Responds to Critics

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – Scarsdale Building Department Chief Nunzio Pietrosanti has responded point-by-point, in writing to criticism leveled at him and his department in a public meeting Wednesday, Feb. 22, and in a petition bearing more than 200 signatures that was sent to Scarsdale Village Hall.

Pietrosanti tried to respond at the public meeting, but was told by Mayor Miriam Levitt-Flisser and the board of trustees not to address specific situations or individuals in his defense. Pietrosanti frequently shook his head and commented quietly as a handful of residents listed their complaints, and, at one point, responded, "That's a lie," before being admonished by the board.

The petition, started by resident Ruth Frankel, calls for "significant changes in the management of the building department" and "due diligence for each and every incidence that concerns any new construction or improvements." The petition accuses the department of not representing "the best interests of established residents."

Pietrosanti said in his written response that he needed specifics referencing the village code and building code of New York State as to how the department was not representing the best interest of property owners.  He said he found it "troubling" that the petition specifically said the interests of "established residents" were not being represented.

"The village code, the building and residential codes of New York State, as well as other local, county, state and federal laws do not legally allow or permit a code enforcement authority to provide preferential treatment to 'established residents,'" he wrote. "This request is neither legal nor ethical."

Pietrosanti rebutted an example in the petition that cited the "water table increasing to unacceptable levels due to over-development" by saying there is no scientific basis for that argument. He also said his department has nothing to do with over-development.

In his written response, he said he suggests supporters of the petition review the previously cited sections of the Scarsdale Village Code and New York State Building and Residential Codes themselves.

"The attacks on the building and engineering departments, as well as the village manager's office are wrong and without basis,” he wrote. He said the village’s land-use boards follow the guidelines and requirements of the current village code and state law in their determinations of site plans, subdivisions, zoning variances, building aesthetics and design, and demolition approvals.

"If the drafters of the petition, those signing the petition, and any other concerned residents are looking to control development in the Village of Scarsdale, they should reach out to the village board to legally change local laws and development requirements."

A complete transcript of the complaints and responses is attached at the end of this report. The village board of trustees is scheduled to discuss the situation at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, at its regular meeting in village hall.

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