Susan Steer posted a comment in response to my story about the city’s lack of enforcement of its “Special Permits.” Ms. Steer is a Democratic Committee member and was appointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals by Mayor Yepsen.
In her comment she took issue with who was responsible for the enforcement for special permits. She asserted that the public safety department and not the mayor’s office bears the responsibility.
As I noted in my original post, not only did the retired city planner believe that the responsibility was with the mayor’s office but the building inspector, Steve Shaw, whose office is under the mayor, also agreed that it was his responsibility. Nevertheless, I contacted Commissioner of Public Safety, Chris Mathiesen to double check. Commissioner Mathiesen explained that his office was responsible for a variety of ordinances such as excessive noise. It was also responsible for code enforcement largely through the fire department for safety issues among others. Compliance with land-use issues was with the building inspector. Commissioner Mathiesen has served on a number of land-use boards over the years and is quite knowledgable. He told me he was familiar with the issues. He lamented the general lack of enforcement due to the limited resources in the building inspector’s office. He also noted what he considered the excessive leniency in the courts regarding penalties.
I fully expect all of this to be clarified. As the readers of this blog know, I have written to Mayor Yepsen about the apparent violation by Saratoga National Golf Course of their special permit both in their failure to comply with the building of two nature trails and with the fact that they routinely exceed the limit of the special events they are allowed each year. I also brought to her attention the confusion of who is responsible for enforcement. I expect our Mayor to rigorously investigate all of these issues and to take whatever remedial action may be necessary. When she responds to my inquiries, and shares with me what she has done, I will post it on this site.