Clarkstown Deputy Town Attorney Jeff Millman proposed the creation of a new fine structure for people who repeatedly violate town building and zoning codes. Millman said although the proposed progressive system would increase fines if people committed the same violations more than once, it would also make allowances for those who abated the violations.
Millman explained the new approach incorporates a step system so the fine goes up from $1,000 to $2,500 to $5,000 and potentially higher if a property owner commits the same violation. He told the town board at Tuesday’s workshop that if someone does not understand they are responsible for maintaining their property according to town code the judge and prosecution have the authority to levy fines with more “bite” to them.
Councilman George Hoehmann pointed out that for a fourth offense the fine could jump from $10,000 to $15,000.
“We’d like to get this before the town for a public hearing in the very near future,” said Millman, adding he would present the proposal at a future town board workshop.
Millman said he thought the introduction of graduated penalties would be effective, adding that the possibility of incarceration had been removed because it was never used.
Steve Levine of Congers questioned removal of the incarceration component. He thought it would discourage habitual offenders because they weigh the penalty as cost of doing business and serving time in jail would be a harsher punishment than paying a fine.
“I can tell you no other municipality has fines like this,” said Millman.