An enhanced, interactive map of New York City landmarks, a new metal roof mandate in the Florida Keys, and homeowners' concern over energy efficiency program surcharges
New York Cracks Down on Construction Wage Theft
Manhattan’s district attorney said that he and officials in surrounding New York counties have charged area construction companies and their owners with stealing more than $2.5 million in wages from more than 400 construction workers. The contractors allegedly bounced checks, paid hourly rates that did not meet the prevailing wage, refused to compensate workers for overtime, or did not pay them at all. The amounts not paid per construction company ranged from $13,000 to $700,000.
Officials said immigrant workers, often hired as day laborers, are three times more likely to be victims of wage theft. They tend not to report it because of language barriers or because they fear reprisal due to their illegal status. New York City’s recent construction boom may have created more opportunities for some contractors to commit wage theft and fraud.
Updated Interactive Map Includes Detailed Information on Historic New York City Buildings
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) launched a new, enhanced version of its interactive map, Discover NYC Landmarks. For the first time, the map includes easily accessible and detailed information on each of the nearly 34,000 historic buildings within the city’s 141 historic districts. The document makes it easier for the public to explore the city’s wide range of designated historic buildings.
“This information is invaluable to all stakeholders, including homeowners who want to know more about their buildings, community groups, preservation advocates, historians, academics, and anyone who walks through New York City’s neighborhoods and marvels at our buildings,” said Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan. The map is accessible from computers, smartphones, and tablets.
Data presented includes construction date, architect, style, building type, and original use. Map users can search for properties by characteristics such as architectural style, architect, building type and era of construction.
Metal Roof Mandate in Florida Keys may Require Changes in State Laws
Officials in the Florida Keys are considering an ordinance that would require homeowners that replace damaged or deteriorating roofs to use metal instead of lower-priced shingles. The goal of the measure is to upgrade roofs so that they will better withstand hurricane-force winds.
The problem is that state law deems upgraded requirements to not discriminate “against materials, products or construction techniques of demonstrated capabilities.” Florida law also says that factory-built modular homes will be certified under a state standard, and not subject to more stringent local building codes.
Ground-Mounted Solar Panels Draw Ire of Neighbors in Suburban Massachusetts City
Photovoltaic panels on a suburban front lawn in Massachusetts have provoked strong protests from neighbors who complain that the structure is an out-of-place blemish that will depress property values and tarnish the neighborhood’s character. The PVs are supported on a 21-by-16-foot gray, metallic grid on an 11-foot tower wrapped in faux-greenery.
The structure sits on a “pork-chop” lot with a narrow strip of land that runs hundreds of feet from the street to the couple’s home. It is said to be closer to neighbor’s homes than the owner’s home. The PV array did not violate any zoning or building code provisions, but critics have called it the “solar monster,” and it has caused a rift among neighbors.
PACE Energy Efficiency Financing Program Under Fire as Some Homeowners Complain of Fraud
The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which helps homeowners finance energy efficiency projects such as solar panels or energy-efficient windows with no money down, is facing criticism from participants who say they were misled. Homeowners pay for upgrades through a surcharge assessed to property taxes.
Some homeowners complain of taking on more debt than they could afford after they say they were told that payments would be lower than they turned out to be in reality. The private lenders participating in the program can attach liens to property if homeowners fall behind on payments.