Health Department Meeting Minutes

This memo was prepared on the same date and immediately after the inspection of August 27, 2007.

Hen Island Inspection Report
Hen Island, Rye, New York
Inspection: August 27, 2007

Department of Health represented by:
Deputy Commissioner; Leonard Meyerson
Mosquito Control Department; George Vaselekos
County Sewer and Septic Division; Louise Doyle

The purpose of the inspection was to evaluate the conditions relating to health, safety and welfare of the residents of Hen Island with regards to sewer, potable water, and mosquito infestation.

Issues discussed were:

1. I was advised by Louise Doyle that approvals are only required from the County of Westchester Health Department if the City of Rye requests an applicant to apply to the County for a sewer or septic connection or approval for a reconnection. In the case of the Volpe residence which was rebuilt in 1993 that approval may have been given verbally, possibly by telephone, but there are no records or paper trial that such approval was actually requested or granted.

2. I was advised, and it was confirmed by Commissioner Meyerson, that although the County has no record of any kind with regard to septic or sewage on Hen Island that all of the existing privies are legal and conforming.

3. I was advised by Louise Doyle that the unauthorized reconstruction in progress on Hen Island cottage #27, will only require Health Department approval if the City of Rye requests the applicant to obtain an approval from the County. And if so requested the applicant may be allowed to reconnect to the original privy even though the preexisting non conforming use has not been occupied for over ten years.

4. I was informed by Louise Doyle that it is the position of the Health Department that the privy at the rear of my guest cottage, located less than twenty five feet from my sleeping quarters and less than ten feet from the window of the residence that it services, is covered only by rotted plywood,(that fell apart in my hand as I was holding it) placed over an open pit which emits on occasion, odors and insects, depending upon the number of people in residence, is not considered to be a public health hazard because it is used only in the summer months and at the time of the inspection there were no odors or visual signs of leakage.When asked if she would conduct a inspection on the weekend when the cottage was in use, I was told that she didn’t work on the weekends.

5. I was advised by Commissioner Meyerson that the privy servicing the Sternberg cottage (inspected by the Commissioner on a earlier visit) that is less than ten feet from the rear entrance and rear window of the same residence, and is less than ten feet from the high tide water line is also not in violation of the County Health Codes. During full moons and storm surges the privy is covered with water because it is close to the high water mark of the Long Island Sound. The Health Departments reasoning for not issuing a violation was that the ratio of sewage discharged in the Long Island Sound compared to the amount of water in the Sound was minimal and it is used only in summer months and at the time of the inspection there were no odors or visual signs of leakage.

6. It was agreed that Commissioner Meyerson previously inspected the Cunningham privy which is less than five feet from the residence and in very close proximity to the Sound. It is located above ground, a two feet by two feet block covered vault and used only in the summer months. It empties into the ground and because at the time of the inspection there were no odors or visual signs of leakage it was reasoned by Louise Doyle that this waste disposal vault was not in violation of any sanitary codes.

7. With reference to the potable water issue I was given to understand by Commissioner Meyerson that by simply “advising the cottage owners to post signage stating that ‘water dispensed from this faucet is not fit for human consumption’ would allow the cottages to conform to the health and safety standards in Westchester County therefore releasing the County from any future liability.

8. I was advised by George Vaselekos that the position of the Health Department with regards to the mosquito infestation is that as long as the vast majority of the mosquitoes on Hen Island are not of the Culex species, the infestation is not considered to be a health concern even though children and adults have been treated for innumerable mosquito bites and allergic reactions as a result of thoes bites, and therefore refuse to return to the Island. I was advised that many water front home are sold on a regular basis to avoid the mosquito nuisance and health concerns. Thus inplying if I am not happy with the infestation I should sell my home.

9. It was noted by George Vaselekos that the rat infestation on Hen Island is an “easy fix”. I noted that if violations were issued requiring that appropriate steps be taken to solve this problem it would be an easy fix.


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