2006-03-03 / Community

Addabbo: Increase Fines For Illegal Conversions

In announcing that he has co-sponsored legislation in the City Council that will increase fines for illegal conversions of buildings from industrial to residential uses, Councilman Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. said that there illegal conversions have transformed solid industrial areas, driving up real estate costs and forcing out businesses and jobs. He added that the illegal and unplanned increase of residents in industrial areas has also resulted in conflicts over parking, traffic and noise, which often leads to increased complaints.

Addabbo, Chairman of the Civil Service and Labor Committee, noted that industrial and manufacturing businesses are a significant sector of New York City’s overall economy and provide wages and benefits to over 500,000 workers in New York City.  “Such illegal conversions increase costs for manufacturing and industrial businesses by limiting the ability of these businesses to expand in New York City and new businesses to be established. The loss of quality jobs in the area must be stopped.” 

“This legislation will increase fines on those who illegally convert industrial spaces so that we can foster a stable business environment and promote economic growth and jobs in New York City’s industrial sector,” said Addabbo. 

The proposed legislation states that in addition to any other penalties provided by law, any person who converts, or knowingly takes part or assists in the conversion or permits the maintenance of the conversion of a building legally approved for manufacturing use, except as provided by section 42-03 of the zoning resolution, to occupancy as a dwelling will be subject to imprisonment for a period not to exceed one year and by a fine for each dwelling unit added of not less than one thousand dollars nor more than five thousand dollars for the first offense, not less than two thousand five hundred dollars nor more than fifteen thousand dollars for a second offense committed within an eighteen month period of the first offense and not less than ten thousand dollars nor more than twenty thousand dollars for a third or subsequent offense committed within an eighteen month period of the first offense. 

Under the proposed law, individuals found guilty of illegally converting a building legally approved for manufacturing purposes to occupancy as a dwelling will also be liable for a civil penalty of not less than fifty dollars nor more than one hundred dollars per day for each dwelling unit created as a result of the illegal conversion, beginning on the date the notice of violation was issued and ending on the date of the filing of a valid certification that the condition constituting the violation has been corrected or the date of final determination by the environmental control board that the violation has been corrected, whichever occurs first, and there will be a rebuttable presumption that the violation continued to exist from the date of the issuance of the notice of violation until the date of the filing of the valid certification or final determination of correction.  A second or subsequent violation committed within an eighteen-month period by the same person, at the same premises, will result in a civil penalty of not less than five thousand dollars nor more than fifteen thousand dollars for each dwelling unit created as a result of the illegal conversion. 

In addition to any other penalty provided for by law for each dwelling unit created, any person who falsely certifies that a violation has been corrected will be subject to a civil penalty of not less than two hundred fifty dollars nor more than one thousand dollars for each dwelling unit created as a result of the illegal conversion. This civil penalty will begin on the date the notice of violation was issued and terminate on the date of the filing of a valid certification that the condition constituting the violation has been corrected or the date of final determination by the environmental control board that the violation has been corrected, whichever occurs first, and there will be a refutable presumption that the violation continued to exist from the date of the issuance of the notice of violation until the date of the filing of the valid certification or final determination of correction.

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