By Jon Craig
A plan to require rental property owners to register emergency contact information with the Town of Harrison was punted nearly as quickly as it was proposed.
During the Town Council’s June 19 meeting, a public hearing about the proposed law ended with little discussion and no support from council members.
“I suspect this is postponed indefinitely,’’ Harrison Councilman Joe Cannella said.
“Infinitely,” Councilman Stephen Malfitano said.
“Permanently,’’ Supervisor Ron Belmont added.
After being proposed in April for the second time since 2009, Malfitano said the law went too far and would have been difficult to enforce.
“It was an overreach,” Malfitano, a former Harrison mayor, said.
Village Attorney Jonathan Kraut drafted the proposed law. It would have required owners of two-family rental homes and larger apartment buildings in the town of Harrison to register their properties and provide up-to-date contact phone numbers with the Building Department. The details would have created a database for Harrison police and other public safety officials in the event of an emergency.
With passage of the local law, Harrison could have a working record and easy way to contact responsible parties associated with every rental property in town, Kraut said at an earlier public meeting. Kraut told the Town Council that Mt. Kisco and Port Chester had success with similar landlord registries.
But the proposed law was challenged by some residents, landlords and council members ever since it was introduced by Kraut at the Town Council meeting on April 1.
Some landlords expressed concern about the law’s potential daily fines of $250 to $1,000 if they failed to register their rental properties with the town.
Building Inspector Robert FitzSimmons expressed support for the law, citing prior emergencies, including a two-family home flooded earlier this year. Town officials were unable to reach the landlord during that situation, he said.
The registry also was aimed at curbing absentee landlords. A similar law was proposed in 2009, but also failed to receive support from the Town Council.
Council members said it might be difficult to collect fines, especially from property owners who don’t live in Harrison or New York State.
Council member Marlane Amelio said the Town Council could always revisit the proposal if new concerns arise from not having a landlord registry.
In the meantime, she said the same information, including contact information, could be gathered from tax information that is readily available for most property owners.