Your Home & Property
All additions and structural changes, and many repairs to your home and property, require some sort of Village approval, ranging from a fairly simple permit for a fence to a complex of permits and public hearings on environmental impact for a dock and boat house. Before you begin any alterations or additions, check at Village Hall to find out what kind of permits and approvals you need and what codes you must conform to. This simple step can save great aggravation and expense later, because failure to comply with Village codes and procedures may result in fines and/or the forced removal of any construction or restoration of the property to its original condition. If the violations are not discovered at the time they are committed, they will surely be detected when you sell your property and a title search is conducted. Discovery of such violations at that time could jeopardize a sale. Specific procedures for the most common projects are outlined in this section.
Swimming pool plans must be approved before construction can begin. CONSTRUCTION MAY NOT BE STARTED WITHOUT A BUILDING PERMIT. Application forms and information about requirements for swimming pools are available at the Village Hall. Pools may only be located in rear yards and must be enclosed by fencing which meets specific New York State and Village standards. Also, the plumbing arrangements for a pool must meet Village codes and the pool water must recirculate. Drainage and screening, distance from property lines, pool covers, and devices to protect the potable water supply all must be included in the plans and must meet Village codes. A Construction Permit is required before work commences, inspections will be conducted by an Assistant Building Inspector during construction, and the completed pool must be approved by the Building Department which will issue a Certificate of Completion before it may be used. A permit is required for emptying a pool, which is permitted only for substantial repairs and never onto the street or property of others.
Because of their size and all the possible consequences of their construction, approval procedures for the construction of tennis courts are relatively elaborate. Failure to comply with all regulations and codes could result in fines and the obligation to remove the tennis court. CONSTRUCTION MAY NOT BEGIN WITHOUT A BUILDING PERMIT.
1. Hire the proper experts to act as your agents. An architect, engineer, and/or contractor may be necessary for designing and building a tennis court to comply with Village codes and rules. While the property owner is always responsible for work done at his or her behest on the property, professional expertise is critical. With tennis courts, it is a good idea to use firms with experience in Sands Point.
2. Check with Village Hall for the tennis court requirements. Tennis courts may only be built in rear yards and may not be nearer than 25 feet to any property line. Tennis courts may not be covered or enclosed, and must be surrounded by specified fencing (See subsection on fences below). They must be completely screened from adjoining property by trees, and they may not be lighted. Backboards and/or other rebounding surfaces are not permitted.
3. Have site plans drawn to include screening, drainage, fencing, topographic contours, elevations of court and related construction, and distances from property lines. There are Village codes regulating all of these. Remember that tennis players prefer courts positioned on a north-south axis to minimize sun problems. You will also need a professional survey and a stake-out on the site.
4. Your agent must fill out the appropriate permit application form and file it with the Building Department. It must be accompanied by the plans and survey, and the stake-out must be available for inspection.
5. The application will automatically be rejected by the Building Commissioner. Do not be upset; this is standard procedure for all tennis court applications.
6. An application to the Zoning Appeals Board must be completed and submitted to the Village Office at least 30 days before the next meeting of the Board.
7. At least 10 days before the hearing, notify all contiguous property owners by certified mail of the date and subject of the public hearing, and provide the Zoning Appeals Board with proof that you have given this required notice. (Names of contiguous property owners may be obtained from researching tax maps available at the Village Office.)
8. Once you have met these requirements, and submitted plans which conform to Village codes, the Zoning Appeals Board will determine if a Construction Permit will be issued, but only after all have been heard and its members have considered the applicant’s proposals. After receipt of a favorable Decision and Order of the Board and any other documentation that you are required to submit, the Building Department will issue the Construction Permit. The Zoning Appeals Board always gives itself the option to require additional screening after construction is completed.
9. During construction, Assistant Building Inspectors will conduct regular visits to be sure the work is proceeding according to the approved plans. Any changes in plans should be discussed immediately with the Building Inspector. It is much easier to get permission prior to altering the plans than approval after construction is complete, when non-compliance may require the removal of the violation, even removal of the entire tennis court.
10. When construction is completed, a final inspection will be made to be sure that all requirements have been met. The Building Department will issue a Certificate of Completion.
11. Once that is done, serve the ball and enjoy your tennis!
FENCES AND SWIMMING POOL ENCLOSURES
No fence may be taller than 6' 6" if it is on or within four feet of the property line, or taller than 4 feet if it is more than 4 feet from the property line. This includes manmade earth berms. In addition, all new fences must be installed with the finished side facing the street or the neighboring property. Permits are required for installation of all fences and construction of all berms.
New York State law requires that all swimming pools be enclosed. There are special regulations that apply to swimming pool enclosures. As an example, if the back wall of your house is to be used as part of the enclosure, all doors and windows must conform to strict requirements concerning self-closing and locking operation and window control height. Some requirements do not apply to pools constructed prior to 1986. Consult with the Building Department for detailed information.
ADDITIONS TO YOUR HOUSE
Every alteration, addition, renovation, or structural change of any kind must have a Building Permit. Exceptions are renovations under $10,000.00 in cost, non-structural in nature and not requiring any electrical or plumbing work. Check with Village Hall first, to find out if what you are planning needs a permit, and what kind it calls for. If a permit is required, CONSTRUCTION MAY NOT BE STARTED WITHOUT ONE.
1. Hire the proper experts to act as your agents. An architect, engineer, and/or contractor may be necessary for designing and building an addition to your house to comply with Village codes and rules. While the owner is responsible for the work, professional expertise is critical for any construction requiring a building permit.
2. Have your agents pick up the application forms and read them so they know what is required to make your project comply with Village law. They should talk with the Building Department to determine the specifications and permit process and to ascertain the zoning laws that may apply to your property for the work you are contemplating. Since the Board of Zoning Appeals is a quasi-judicial body, its members will not discuss individual problems with an applicant outside of the public meetings.
3. Construction and site plans should be drawn with all those requirements in mind. Think about possible future needs as well; for example, if you are contemplating building a swimming pool someday, consider pool enclosure regulations as they pertain to window and door specifications. Your agents should always discuss any questions or problems with the appropriate Village officials to avoid rejection of completed plans.
4. Your agent must apply to the Building Department for a Building Permit. CONSTRUCTION MAY NOT BE STARTED WITHOUT A BUILDING PERMIT. Your application must be accompanied by: the Nassau County Assessors Form, the short form Environmental Impact Statement, plans with the professional’s seal and signature, contractor’s Nassau County license number, a certified survey, a site plan of the proposed work, building permit fees, and certificates of liability insurance and proof of workman’s compensation coverage for the contractor. If your project will increase the size of the house by more than 50%, the Building Department will automatically deny the application and send it to the Board of Zoning Appeals. Don't be upset. This is the regular procedure. If your project violates the Zoning Code and other Village regulations, the application will also be turned down and referred to the Board for a variance.
5. The Board will review your plans and visit the site with the site plan to look at a "stake-out" (an outline with rope and stakes of the location, size, and shape of anticipated construction). At this point in the construction approval process, the Board’s job is to make sure that plans for the shape and size of the addition and its placement on the property meet Village Codes. This can be a lengthy procedure if the project is complex or requires many variances from Village codes and requirements. Do not try to circumvent this process. If construction is begun without a Building Permit you may be subject to serious penalties, including fines and having to remove the installation. When the Board approves plans, it always leaves itself the option to require additional screening upon completion.
6. The Board will set a date for the public hearing on your application. A public hearing is an open meeting, announced to the general public, at which a Village matter is discussed before it is decided. Any resident with an interest in the issue under discussion is free to ask questions and make comments, all of which are included in the official record of the hearing. The Village agency which is conducting the hearing is required by law to take into account, but only to the extent mandated by law, the comments made at the hearing.
7. At least 10 days before the hearing, notify all contiguous property owners of the date and subject of the public hearing by certified mail, return receipt requested, and provide the Board with proof that you have given this required notice. The names and addresses of all of the contiguous property owners may be obtained by researching tax maps available for viewing at the Village office.
8. Some time after the public hearing, the Board will render its decision. Once your plans have received approval from the Board and you have its Legal Order implementing that approval, your application will go back to the Building Department for approval.
9. It is the Building Department’s job to make sure that construction plans meet State fire and life safety codes to protect the health and welfare of Village residents. The Building Department works very closely with applicants to arrive at approvable plans. When the Building Department approves your plans, it will issue a Building Permit.
10. When you have your building permit, construction may begin. Building Permits are issued for 9 months. At the time your building permit is issued, you will receive a fee schedule for extensions. Three extensions of three months each may be requested if construction is delayed or protracted, but any extension past those 18 months can only be granted by the Board of Trustees, which will also determine the fee for such extension. If you don’t have an extension, you will be required to stop construction.
11. During construction, an Assistant Village Building Inspector will make regularly scheduled visits to the site for inspections which are listed on the building permit, to make sure that the work is proceeding according to the plans and is meeting the various codes and requirements. Your or your contractor must contact the Assistant Village Building Inspector when you are ready for an inspection.
12. If it is necessary to change the plans during construction for any reason, your agent must consult with the Building Inspector. It is much easier to get approval for changes before they have been made than after construction is completed, when you could be forced to tear down construction which does not meet codes or match the approved plans.
13. Once construction is completed, you must provide an "as built" survey to make sure that all construction is sited as indicated in the plans, and that requirements for screening and grading have been met. Other documents, such as a Board of Fire Underwriters certificate, may also be needed. If the completed work does not conform to Village codes its removal can be required. Although this does not happen often, it does happen. The Village is not responsible for errors on the plans, even if its agencies have approved them. The final construction must conform with Village codes and any variances that have been granted. At this time the Board may exercise its option to require the placement of additional screening.
14. Your agent must request a Certificate of Occupancy. You cannot occupy any new construction without one, and it takes about 30 days for a C.O. to be issued, so plan accordingly. There are various requirements that must be met before the C.O. will be issued, such as obtaining a New York Board of Fire Underwriters Certificate if the construction involved any electrical work. The Building Permit must be extended and all fees paid until such time as the C.O. is actually issued.
15. When you receive your certificate of occupancy, decorate, move in the furniture, and enjoy your renovation. It is a good idea to put your C.O. and final plans in a safe place where you will be able to find them when you sell your home or plan future renovations.
See "Additions to Your House," this section. Permits are required for most structural repairs.
WINDOWS, SKYLIGHTS, DOORS
Permits are required to install new windows, skylights, or doors if structural supports are involved, as is often the case, or if the project is extensive. Emergency egress requirements of the building code are an enforcement responsibility of the Village. Check with the Building Department if there are any questions.
AUTOMATIC LAWN SPRINKLERS
Residents may apply to the Village for a permit to install an in-ground lawn irrigation system. All systems must be equipped with rain sensors and backflow devices and may only be operated on certain schedules, which provide specific watering times on certain days of the week. Backflow devices must be inspected annually. Specific usage quotas are assigned by the Village Water Department to each resident with a system. Consult with Village Hall for the exact regulations.
Only one driveway with one curb cut is now permitted on each residential lot (pre-existing conditions are excepted). New driveway width is limited to a maximum of 15 feet at the street. There are also requirements about drainage; for example, underground dry wells are often needed to prevent the run-off from heavy rains from causing street flooding. A permit is often required to add or alter a driveway, but not for re-black-topping.
Trees which have a circumference greater than twenty inches (approximately six inches in diameter) at a point four feet six inches above the ground may not be removed, destroyed or substantially altered without a permit. On unimproved property, permits are required for removal of trees of any size. The permit require-ment does not apply to appropriate horticultural pruning or to an emergency where there is imminent danger to human life or property. The Building Department may require replacement plantings as a condition for a removal permit.
The law also empowers the Building Department to require the removal or trimming of trees or shrubs that constitute a public danger, such as in circumstances when driver visibility is impaired. If the resident does not comply after receiving fourteen days written notice from the Village Clerk, the Village may proceed to do the required work and bill the resident.
No new private wells are permitted under Village law.
Any such antenna that is larger than three feet in diameter is subject to Village regulations and cannot be installed without a permit. Application must be approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals. It must be in the rear yard, must be located and screened as required by the Board, may not be attached to or on top of any building, and may not be nearer than 25 feet to property lines. Satellite antennae must be grounded for electrical safety reasons. Consult Village Hall for the specific requirements for permit applications; they are similar to those for tennis courts. Notification of contiguous property owners and a public hearing are required. A public hearing is an open meeting, announced to the general public, at which a Village matter is discussed before it is decided. Any resident with an interest in the matter under discussion is free to ask questions and make comments, all of which are included in the official record of the hearing. The Village agency which is conducting the hearing is required by law to take into account, but only to the extent mandated by law, the comments made at the hearing. At least 10 days before the hearing, you must notify all contiguous property owners by certified mail of the date and subject of the public hearing, and provide the Zoning Appeals Board with proof that you have given this required notice. Antennae permits are temporary, and must be renewed through the same procedure at specified intervals.
INTRUSION AND FIRE ALARMS
Permits are required for the installation and use of alarms. They are issued for two-year periods and are renewable. Check at Sands Point Police headquarters to find out requirements for getting the initial permit and the renewals. Private home alarm systems must meet specific Village standards. These requirements apply whether the alarm is connected directly to the police department or to a private alarm company. If the alarm is connected directly to the Police Department, an annual maintenance fee must be paid to the company that maintains the alarm board at Police headquarters. Sands Point requires an automatic cutoff on any outside alarm bell or siren, and does not permit tape recorded report calls to the police.
Homeowners who have alarms must list someone in the area for the police to call if the alarm goes off and no one is at home. In addition, residents are responsible for false alarms issued by their systems. After four false alarms, fines can, and have been, levied. The Village also has the right to disconnect a system that produces too many false alarms. It is very important to have a good system and a company that keeps it in top working order. Alarm permit applications are available in Police Headquarters. The alarm company representative should fill it out, as it contains a number of technical questions. It only takes a few days for an alarm permit to be issued.
VEHICLE PARKING AND STORAGE ON RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY
The parking and storage of vehicles on residential property in Sands Point is now specifically regulated. The Building Commissioner may grant exemptions for up to thirty days.
YOU MAY NOT:
• Park any vehicles on residential property except on the driveway or in the garage.
• Park any commercial vehicles overnight on residential property except in closed garages. (See the Village law for the definition of a commercial vehicle.)
• Park any vehicles that are more than eight feet tall or have more than four wheels on a residential property overnight.
Violations of this law are punishable by fines of up to $250 for each day of the violation.
PROPERTY TAXES & ASSESSMENTS
The assessed valuation of your property is the basis for your property taxes, which are set at a certain number of dollars per $100 of assessed valuation. The assessed valuation is not related to the market value of a property. The Nassau County Board of Assessors sets the assessed value of each property within the Village based upon 1938-39 construction costs. Each year the Sands Point Board of Assessors, which is also the Sands Point Board of Trustees, examines the assessment rolls and makes changes where necessary following the correct Nassau County roll. If a property owner has received a tax exemption, such as that for veterans, the Board of Assessors will re-assess the property and notify the owner.
Grievance Day, usually held on the third Tuesday in February each year, is the time for making complaints about assessments or re-assessments to the Village. These complaints must be filed on a special form, which is available in the Village Office, and should be filed in advance. There is a similar procedure for complaints about county tax assessments. Consult the Nassau Board of Assessors for information. Property tax exemption applications must be filed with the Village for any exemption from Village tax, and with Nassau County for an exemption from county tax. The Village and County are separate taxing entities, and an exemption from one tax does not automatically apply to the other. Village taxes are paid annually and are due in the Village Office between June 1 and July 1. If they are not paid by July 1, interest will be charged. County, Town, and School taxes are each due twice a year, and the bills are sent out by the Town of North Hempstead Receiver of Taxes. School taxes must be paid by November 10th and May 10th; Town taxes by February 10th and August 10th. The County bill is included on the Town Tax bill.
There are no sewers in Sands Point; sewage is disposed of in individual private sanitary systems, or cesspools. A special permit is required for construction of a new cesspool, which must meet specific Village codes and standards. A permit is also required to replace a cesspool, mainly because Village standards for sanitary systems change over the years. When non-conforming systems are modified, work must include septic tanks. Applications and regulations are available at the Village Office. It is a simple procedure to get a cesspool permit, and takes just a day or two if all the information is supplied and the plans conform to requirements. An added benefit to getting a permit is that the Village will then have a record of the location of your cesspool, so if it needs work later, it can be found quickly and easily.
Garbage is collected in Sands Point by a private contractor hired by the Village and paid through Village taxes. The contract with the carter is prepared by the Village to its specifications. The contractors are obtained by the competitive bidding process prescribed by New York State law. At present, the contract calls for three garbage pick-ups each week, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. only.
At each pickup, the carter is required to take the equivalent of three 30-gallon cans of garbage (mostly organic material such as kitchen waste) and of four 30-gallon cans of rubbish (non-putrescible material such as cardboard, fabric, wood, or metal). By law, Sands Point residents are required to separate recyclable newspaper, glass, certain plastics and metal cans, which are now collected with every garbage pickup. Newspaper must be bundled and glass, plastics, and cans go in a specially designated recycling container. Call the Village Office for garbage collection days on your street and details about what material must be separated for recycling. If your special recycling container is gone, you may buy a new one at the Village Office.
The carter is not required to pick up very large items or a volume greater than that listed above unless special arrangements have been made in advance. To make those arrangements, get the carter’s phone number from the Village Office and call directly. The carter is obligated to pick up only one large item per household per week, except in weeks with holidays, when no special pickup can be arranged.
"Accessory structure" is a legal term used frequently in zoning law. Since Sands Point laws regulate the construction and location of accessory structures, it is useful to know what they are. Accessory structures include: subordinate buildings on a lot, such as sheds or pool houses; tents; platforms; radio towers; gas pumps; water pumps and wells; standpipes; outdoor bins; walls and fences; recreation, athletic and play structures set into the ground, including patios, terraces and raised decks; swimming pools and their equipment; tennis courts; pergolas; gates and gateposts; signs;and antennae, among others. If you're not sure whether something is an accessory structure, ask in the Village Office. A Building Permit and in some cases the permission of the Board of Zoning Appeals are required before commencing construction of an accessory structure.