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Lyme’s code enforcement officer builds house without a building permit

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THREE MILE BAY — Lyme’s code enforcement officer, James G. Millington Jr., says he built a house on Point Peninsula in 2007 without a building permit — but for a good reason.

The architect who was supposed to provide him with a floor plan skipped town, a story that the head of Jefferson County’s Building Code Department confirmed Monday.

“My engineer left town with all the documents,” Mr. Millington said. “We couldn’t complete the permitting with the county because he moved to somewhere in Florida. We can’t find him.”

When asked whether his South Shore Road home would be considered an illegal structure, Mr. Millington said, “It is and it isn’t.”

“A lot of people build without permits and it’s very difficult to enforce it,” he said.

It was before Lyme had created a code enforcement position and Mr. Millington had started the permitting process for his new home through Jefferson County.

Michael L. Kieff, director of county code enforcement, said Mr. Millington “got bad service from the engineer.”

Mr. Millington’s architect — his next-door neighbor, G. Norman Schreib — never completed the drawings that had to be submitted, Mr. Kieff said.

Mr. Schreib, a self-employed engineer and former Lyme councilman, unsuccessfully ran for town supervisor in 2009 against Supervisor Scott G. Aubertine. The Schreibs two years later sold their Point Peninsula home.

But the case is beyond Jefferson County’s jurisdiction now because Lyme opted to hire its own code enforcement officer instead of using the county service.

“We never did have a permit on that building,” Mr. Kieff said. “I don’t know where we go from here. He’d have to contact the state and have them inspect the building.”

For two years, Mr. Millington said, he has been struggling to get the issue resolved.

And now, his Point Peninsula home might cost him a job with the Cape Vincent town government.

Mr. Millington said he has been caught in the middle of a political battle in Cape Vincent, where he serves as zoning officer.

The Town Council has considered hiring Mr. Millington to inspect buildings in Cape Vincent as he does for Lyme and Dexter.

“They’re trying to discredit the regime there,” he said, arguing that he has fallen victim to a political dispute surrounding wind development, a controversial topic that has polarized the Cape Vincent community.

Cape Vincent town Supervisor Urban C. Hirschey said the Town Council will decide how to move forward with the matter after gathering input from residents at a public hearing Wednesday night.

“We’re open for debate and we’ll make a determination based on the input we get,” he said.

Mr. Hirschey also said the code enforcement officer’s salary is not included in Cape Vincent’s 2013 budget.

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