After nearly a year in the making, an analysis of the village of Mamaroneck Building Department’s processes and practices has been submitted to the Board of Trustees. Among the consultants’ major suggestions are more training, a better submission process and hands-on legal counsel.
Using interviews from village staff, land use boards and applicants, the report—carried out by Matrix Consulting Group—details more than two dozen areas of potential improvement with land use protocol and processes for a cost of $40,000.
Of the 25 identified areas of improvement, 19 of them were listed as “high” priority matters, while the rest were designated as “medium.”
Among the key suggestions highlighted by the group’s report were the immediate introduction of online submissions for applicants and the discontinuation of all submissions by mail. According to the report, the village does not currently allow for applicants appearing before land use boards to submit applications via the Internet.
In addition to introducing new technology to expedite processes for applicants, the report also highlights the implementation of tracking metrics of village staff to monitor the review process and rate overall performance, on top of providing members of the village staff and land use boards with more training.
The long awaited report was spurred by several controversies related to the Building Department’s misclassification or mishandling of several local businesses.
Among the most notable were the Westchester Sandbox Theatre and Ralph’s Italian Ices & Ice Cream, the latter of which was forced to shut down after being found non-compliant with village zoning code as the result of a retroactive zoning appeal.
During its application process, Ralph’s—criticized for the traffic and noise it brought to the immediate vicinity of the East Boston Post Road neighborhood—was originally classified as a retail establishment, giving rise to claims that the Building Department had botched the process and paved the way for several unsuccessful lawsuits filed against the village.
After being found operating a theater in a non-compliant zoning district and operating without a sprinkler system–a New York state violation–Westchester Sandbox Theatre has relocated to the village’s industrial area with the proper permitting.
As part of these controversies, Building Inspector Dan Gray’s potential role in them also came under scrutiny last year. However, Gray accepted a raise to stay in his position with the village of Mamaroneck after receiving a job offer from the village of Tarrytown.