CARS HOMES JOBS

Inflatable pools draw attention in Rotterdam

Town enforcing state regulations to the ire of some residents

Wednesday, August 14, 2013
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Michelle Ryan of Duanesburg Road in Rotterdam, stands near her pool and the $800 fence she had to install when she received notice from the town to bring her pool up to code Wednesday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
Michelle Ryan of Duanesburg Road in Rotterdam, stands near her pool and the $800 fence she had to install when she received notice from the town to bring her pool up to code Wednesday.

— When Michelle Ryan purchased an inflatable pool for the backyard of her rented home on Duanesburg Avenue this summer, she never envisioned having to first apply for a building permit from the town.

She also didn’t foresee needing to enclose the 31⁄2-foot deep pool she bought from Kmart for $249 in a fence with a self-closing gate. Or that her outdoor electrical outlets would need a pricey upgrade and that she’d have to buy an alarm system to float on top of the shallow pool.

But then came the violation notices from Rotterdam’s code enforcer. In July, Ryan received written notification that she lacked a permit for a pool, the required barrier around it and an alarm system to ward off interlopers — all violations that could land her stiff penalties if she didn’t take corrective action.

Ryan was aghast, especially since she inflated a similar style pool by her home the previous two summers without issue. The inexpensive pool she bought to use through the summer months has now cost her more than $850 in home improvements alone.

“Nobody in their right mind could have envisioned we needed a building permit,” said the irate resident. “This isn’t like a regular pool. It comes down, and with the way the weather has been lately, it may come down soon.”

And she’s not alone. Rotterdam code enforcers handed out similar notifications to more than two dozen homes between mid-July and the first week of August, according to Town Board member Robert Godlewski, who was shocked to learn the town was classifying the inflatable pools as though they were permenant.

“Why do you need to get a building permit to put a pool up for two or three months out of the year?” he asked.

Supervisor Harry Buffardi said the compliance notifications shouldn’t come as a surprise to residents with inflatable pools. He said temporary pools such as the one used by Ryan are regulated under state law just like in- or above-ground pools since they can cause the same issues.

“If a child drowns in an inflatable pool and we’re asked why we didn’t enforce the existing laws, we’d be hard pressed to answer that question,” he said. “These are not kiddie pools. Some of these are 20 feet in diameter and three feet deep.

Town Attorney Kate McGuirl said the town is following the state Residential Code governing swimming pools, since Rotterdam has few pool regulations of its own. Absent more restrictive local laws, she said town code enforcers are now following the guidelines presented by state law, which was adopted in 2010 and covers any basin deeper than two feet.

“While I certainly appreciate the resident’s perspective that the use of the swimming pool may be temporary and the cost to comply with the state code can be hefty, when balanced with the town’s responsibility to enforce the state code to prevent situations were a child may be harmed or could drown by spending an additional $500, the choice is clear,” she said.

Rotterdam’s code stresses that all pools must be in compliance with state code. The town’s swimming pool permit costs $50 for above-ground pools and $100 for in-ground pools. Applicants must provide a site plan drawing showing boundaries and setbacks from property lines and identify features such as septic tanks. Pools also must have an electrical inspection before a permit is issued, according to the code.

Buffardi and McGuirl stressed that the notices given to residents were mere warnings. No citations have been issued so far.

McGuirl partially faulted retailers for misleading consumers with the inexpensive pools. Though most manuals encourage compliance, she said few stores that sell the inflatable pools mention the additional costs customers will have to incur to be up to code.

“Retailers offer deep discounts on swimming pools without informing consumers of added costs to safely use the swimming pools in the state of New York,” she said.

The town’s enforcement of the code, however, doesn’t sit well with residents like Ryan. Though she has complied with the demands of code enforcement, Ryan is still questioning why the town has suddenly started cracking down.

“The sense we get is that the town is broke and they’re looking to raise revenue,” she said.

Buffardi said the pool enforcement is just one of many codes the town is now working to address. He said town codes have been largely ignored for years, which is why some are shocked when the code enforcer does hand out a notice.

“The lack of enforcement has been rather obvious by people’s lack of compliance,” he said.

 

comments

August 15, 2013
6:45 a.m.
cidbil says...

"Buffardi said the pool enforcement is just one of many codes the town is now working to address. He said town codes have been largely ignored for years, which is why some are shocked when the code enforcer does hand out a notice.

“The lack of enforcement has been rather obvious by people’s lack of compliance,” he said."

Well since the town is now working to address parts of the town code that have been largely ignored, I do hope they address the town code that states political campaign signs are not to be displayed on government property.....that's a part of the town code that is ignored by town politicians.....

August 15, 2013
7:15 a.m.
JIMOCONNOR says...

Mr. Barber's photo is priceless.

August 15, 2013
8:25 a.m.
hbonie says...

Rotterdam New York is not a nice place to live I owned a home for twenty years the Politian's are sucking the place dry, with every new code or law they pass it will cost you. Inflatable pools collapse if put any weight on tne sides. a nice place to live?

August 15, 2013
9:39 a.m.
biwemple says...

That's an $800 fence? I think I spent less than a $100 to do the same size fence around my garden.

August 15, 2013
10:31 a.m.
cidbil says...

The $800 was for all the improvements, not just the fence....

August 15, 2013
11:57 a.m.
grant18 says...

I would like to have sympathy for Ms. Ryan & the other pool owners but I do not. Several years ago a friend lost a child in a pool & it resulted in such terrible remorse that it led to a divorce & emotional problems for both parents for many years.
Protecting young children from drowning should be given the highest priority in EVERY community. The Town of Rotterdam & its officials should be commended, not castigated. Perhaps Ms. Ryan should join with others in a class action suit against the pool retailers for their callous & negligent attitude, as pointed out by the Town Attorney.

August 15, 2013
12:17 p.m.
memny says...

If parents are not supervising their children, they could just as easily drown at home in the bathtub as they could in a neighbor's blow up pool.

August 15, 2013
7:28 p.m.
cfield says...

The Town could care less about the pool,fence ,ect......... They just want the money for the PERMIT. Just remember elected officials can be voted out too.......

August 19, 2013
3:04 p.m.
biwemple says...

One of those larger inflatable pools holds a LOT of water. If I lived in real close quarters with a neighbor who installed one and it ruptured, their pool could easily flood a basement or below grade apartment and do a lot of damage. They need to be regulated like a normal above ground pool for that reason as well as these safety issues.

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