Rockland County Executive Ed Day and Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski announce plans to immediately inspect private schools for building code and fire safety on May 26, 2016. (Photo: Ricky Flores/The Journal News)
“A state monitor assigned nearly two years ago to oversee the town fire and safety inspections and building department administration has been pulled from Town Hall.
After assigning the oversight in response to years of complaints about Ramapo’s deficient enforcement of fire safety and building codes, the state has determined the Ramapo Building Department has shown improvement and now meets the minimum standards.
A state monitor continues to oversee the Spring Valley Building Department. That monitor also was assigned due to the village’s inefficient enforcement of fire and safety codes.
The decision to remove the monitor has been met with derision and concerns by advocates, such as state Assmblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, D-New City, and firefighters who fought for the oversight and demanded improvements.
“We haven’t seen any improvements,” said Justin Schwartz, a volunteer firefighter who chairs the Rockland Illegal Housing and Non Public Schools Task Force.
“As far as I am concerned, they signed the death warrant for residents and firefighters,” Schwartz said.
Zebrowski said the state efforts have fallen short, but he said the fight for safer housing and enforcement continues.
“I feel an opportunity was missed here because I envisioned a far more robust process with input from firefighters and the public,” Zebrowski said. “The state cites specific improvements that they feel brought code enforcement up to the minimum standards; but I won’t just take their word for it.”
Zebrowski said that “to truly achieve proper building code and fire safety, we need clear standards and a robust enforcement system, starting with the inspector and continuing through the local courts.”
Schwartz noted the lack of deterrence is the town declining to enforce a judicial order to close down a private school operating without proper town approvals. Ramapo officials are allowing the school to stay open and go before the Planning Board for needed site plan approval to get a certificate of occupancy.”
Read the complete Journal News story here.