He was served a violation on July 1, 2011, for ‘building without a permit’, 'possible finished attic' from then building inspector Mr. Vincent Tamburro for said property–which he has been renting out for the past 12 years.
It has been over three months since an attorney, Jordan Glass, first presented Mayor French, the Rye City Council, and all of Rye’s residents with information that the mayor’s investment property had been illegally improved from a two-family home to a one-family home without the proper permits and approved certificates of occupancy.
Indignation as Evidence Mounts; Short Documentary Dogs Mayor
There has more than 20 televised statements issued from the bully pulpit, center dais of the council chamber, in which Mayor French has: denied the single family home was illegal; denied the attic was finished illegally; scoffed at the idea he had received a violation in July 2011; assured the public his investment property was properly improved; called the facts as to the illegality of his property ‘false allegations’; and insisted he was the victim of a baseless 'personal attacks'.
Over 1,000 people have viewed an 18-minute long, in-depth video chronicling the history of the mayor’s home and the mayor’s misrepresentations on You Tube. That video, below, is also airing on the Rye TV public access channel 76/33, and on the White Plains, Mamaroneck and Rye Brook public access channels as well.
Mayor Slapped With Violations
The city's response to a recent FOIL request showed, that on December 23, 2011, new City of Rye building inspector, Maureen Eckman, served Mayor French with a fresh round of violations for illegal improvements made to his property at 13 Richard Place. The notice of violation reads: ‘VIOLATION – WORK WITHOUT A PERMIT – Change of Occupancy from Two Family to One Family and Finished Attic Space.' The notice directs the mayor to correct the violations “immediately” in the hopes “that further action by this department will not be necessary and that you will cooperate in correcting this situation.”
Ironically, two weeks after being issued this notice of violation, Mayor French was still promoting the fantasy of his innocence–by emailing a listing sheet from when he purchased the home in 1992. That email was sent to members of the city's Board of Ethics, one week before they were to meet regarding possible wrongdoing by the mayor and city employees in relation to these issues. The email message read “Please see the attached home listing from 1992 when we purchased the home which will address the misinformation that has been circulating." The listing sheet identifies the house as a single family home. Unfortunately for Mayor French, a listing sheet is in no way a legal document. And then, of course, there are those problematic records from the City of Rye's Assessor's Office, Finance Department, and Building Department–every single one of which clearly shows the mayor’s house is, in fact, a legal two family home today–and has been since 1949.
Ethics Board To Meet
At a meeting of the Rye City Council on December 21, 2011, City Manager Scott Pickup said that he has referred Mayor French’s illegal building issues, as well as his duplicate STAR exemption issues, to the city’s three member Board of Ethics–all three of which were appointed by Mayor French himself. Mr. Pickup also said that he, and Corporate Counsel Kristen Wilson, both ex officio members of the Board of Ethics, have recused themselves from the hearing–as they may become subjects of the inquiry themselves.
* Update: It has been discovered that Mayor French’s property does not appear to meet all of the City of Rye zoning requirements for a single-family home in an a two family (or RT) zone. For example, the minimum lot width requirement for a single family home in an RT zone is 50 feet–the mayor’s property has only 42 feet. The total side yard set-back requirement is 20 feet–the mayor only has 17. It also appears that the property maybe deficient in other minimum setback and zoning requirements as well. The building department has been contacted for a response as to how these deficiencies would need to be addressed.
This article was originally written and released to the local press on Jan. 6, 2012.