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Sunday, August 3, 2008

I'm innocent I tell ya...

According to the article in today's Observer Dispatch "Tree clearing raises permit issues in Whitestown":

Kalwara said he didn’t know he needed a permit and has no specific plans for the property. He said he cleared it because it was becoming an eyesore and a breeding ground for mosquitoes.‘
‘I didn’t know ...’
Kalwara is the father of former Town Clerk Joanne Zegarelli and father-in-law of former town Supervisor Matthew Shannon. He also is a past member of the Whitestown Republican Committee.
“I didn’t know that there was a permit that was needed, first of all,” Kalwara said. “I mean, I’m not building anything so what do I need a permit for?”
Hmm! According to the Public Notice from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Buffalo District published August 20, 2003 - Application for Permit under Authority of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344), the Kalwaras had very specific plans for the property back then...are we talking about the same property?

According to the maps included with the Public Notice the Professional Engineer for the project was Alan Swierczek. According to the Observer Dispatch article:
Alan Swierczek, who provided engineering services for the project, said he was aware of the DEC’s stormwater regulations. But, he said, he did not believe permits were necessary because of the nature of the project. Swierczek is the village engineer for the Village of New York Mills and a former town engineer for Whitestown.
Goodness, page 2 of the Public Notice even stated:
The following authorization(s) may be required for this project: Water Quality Certification (or waiver thereof) from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Wouldn't you think that a professional engineer [Alan Swierczek] would have made sure to check everything out instead of acting on his "beliefs"?

The article goes on to say:
Intent or accident?
Whitestown Councilman Dan Sullivan and Kalwara’s neighbor Michele Roberts both said they had trouble believing Kalwara wasn’t aware of the permit requirements based on his past experience with the town.
Neary [Whitestown Codes Officer], however, said he likes to give people the benefit of the doubt. He does not believe Kalwara’s actions violated the town codes, but even when people do he said he often does not pursue fines or other penalties for a first offense. Many landowners, real estate agents and even lawyers, he said, simply don’t understand the requirements.
Just like sometimes councilwomen don't understand that not having smoke detectors installed in certain locations of their rental properties is against New York State Codes, section R3 17.1...right Mr. Neary? Oops, that only happens in New York Mills where Mr. Neary is also Codes Officer, right Mr. Neary?!

Wonder what the Army Corps of Engineer's decision was in regards to Mr. Kalwara's permit application? We suppose we could FOIL it...

There definitely seems to be a lot of these kind of in the Town of Whitestown! If we didn't know better, we would have guessed we were writing about the Town of New Hartford...both towns definitely seem to have the same mantra!


Anonymous said...

saw that in the paper, first thing that came to my mind was Shannon..Wasn't there some before election time about him pulling something to expand his propeety??? It's hard to keep track of all these official oops's..I made up that word

Bob and Jamie Ross said...

We read the article you referenced and ironically (or perhaps not) we are dealing with the same cast of characters in our efforts to get the Town of Whitestown to admit egregious errors it made back in 2001/2002 with regard to the Holy Trinity Cemetary project, and simply correct their mistakes. Town officials have lied to us, fabricated documentation, attempted to bully us, and been outright unethical.

Interestingly, Chuck Gibbs is quoted in the paper as stating "he town does actively pursue codes violations through weekly patrols, and takes 'appropriate action' when necessary." Apparently that only means action is taken against the taxpayers...not against their fellow Town employees.

-Bob and Jamie Ross