Resident Says Clash Between Costanzo, Contractor Impacted His Project

By Martha E. Conway

(Town of Sullivan, NY – April 3, 2013) A couple of members of the public had words for Code Enforcement Officer Phil Costanzo at the Sullivan Town Council’s regular meeting April 3. The issue revolved around allegedly malicious delays in the issuance of a building permit. Resident Andrew Napoli of Bridgeport told the town council that he had been “caught between [Costanzo] and contractor Mike Russell during his attempt to obtain a building permit to erect a pole barn on his property.

According to Napoli, he was not having luck finding a contractor and took Russell’s name of his truck and called him to estimate the job. He said Costanzo required him to stake out the proposed location, then asked for a survey.

Napoli said he didn’t want to go to the expense of having a survey performed, since he knows where his property lines are. He said he told Costanzo he was going to apply for the permit, Costanzo could deny it, and he would go to the town board.

Costanzo obtained aerial graphics of the property and visited the site with town Fire Inspector Bill Pindle. The two of them felt the proposed site still too close to the property line and instructed Napoli to move it another foot further in. Napoli said this put the building six feet off the property line, a foot more than the required five-foot mark.

Napoli said Costanzo and Pindle also suggested moving the construction to an entirely different area of the property, which Napoli rejected because he wanted it closer to his house. He said it also would cost a significant amount more to move it to the suggested location, due to the additional materials – such as crushed stone – that would be required for clean, safe ingress and egress of the building.

When Napoli brought in his application, he said he answered questions about headers and trusses and told he was all set to go; he did not get the permit at that time because he was not ready to begin construction, and there is an expiration date on the permits. Napoli said when he went in to the Codes offices to finalize the permit paperwork, they refused to issue the document because more questions had come up since his January approval.

“I hired a guy to do a job, and whatever is going on between him and Mr. Costanzo should not affect me,” Napoli said, reporting that when he told Costanzo who was going to do the work, he was encouraged to get someone else. “Something ain’t right.”

Langey gave an overview of the responsibilities of the office of code enforcement.

“I heard you say [Costanzo] tried to help you by providing aerial maps,” Langey said to Napoli. “And you got your permit today?”

“And you got a discount,” said Supervisor John M. Becker. “That permit should have been $300, and you paid $100.”

Costanzo said there were some inaccuracies in Napoli’s statements.

“You said you had quotes and asked if they sounded right for a pole barn,” Costanzo said. “You asked for [telephone] numbers, which I gave to you. Mike and I have had difficulties in the past, but he has always complied with the codes.”

Russell, who also was present for the meeting, attempted to address Costanzo, asking him if he just said ‘we’ve never had words in the past.’

Becker declared the matter closed and asked for a motion to go into executive session.

In other business

* Parks and Recreation Office Director Jim Raulli pleaded his case for a caretaker at Sullivan Park in the center of the village of Chittenango. He said vandalism will be out of control without someone on-site full-time.

“We need to establish a rate for pay and rent,” said Supervisor John M. Becker. “I suggest we sit down and talk with the park board next week when they meet and call our insurance agent to make sure we’re protected.”

Raulli came to the board in March with the candidate chosen by the park board after the recruitment and interview process for the position concluded. Questions arose after that meeting during town attorney John Langey’s review of the proposed arrangement, one that has been in place for many years at the park.

“I have grave concerns about liability,” Langey said.

Those concerns revolve around the candidate’s young children residing part-time in the caretaker’s home.

Becker repeated that the matter required further deliberation before a caretaker can again reside in the house at the park.

* Resident Mark Welytok asked the town board if there had been any movement on his March request for the removal of a no parking sign in front of his property on the north side Route 31. He said the state Department of Transportation requires a resolution from the town. Board members agreed to support it.

* Residents of Sandy Hatch Road submitted an informal petition to the town board for the installation of a street light at the corner of Lakeport Road where children wait for the school bus. Langey said he would provide residents a petition that meets the legal requirements of the state and begin the formal process of scheduling a public hearing.

Councilman John Brzuszkiewicz said he would support the street light as long as a lighting district was established and residents were aware it would go on their tax bills.

Langey said the town will need to know who will erect the utility pole in order to most accurately calculate the operation and maintenance cost of the light so those in the district will know what they can expect to pay.


Martha E. Conway is vice president of M3P Media, LLC, and publisher of the Madison County Courier. She can be reached at 315.813.0124 or by emailing Follow her on Twitter at or Facebook at

By martha

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