You’re asking for trouble when you crawl out the upstairs windows of a rental house and put lawn chairs on the porch roof. But college students do it anyway.
Shouldn’t the Village do something to prevent this kind of dangerous behavior before someone gets hurt?
Last September, the students who were renting the house at 32 College Street turned the porch roof into a mini-bar with four chairs (including one on wheels) and a small American Flag.
Those students may have moved on at the end of the semester, but whoever is renting that house now has crawled out the upstairs windows and put lawn chairs and a kitchen chair on the porch roof of that rental house.
It is déjà vu all over again, and nobody in the Village government seems to care.
The house is only two houses east of the house where Brockport Village Trustee Bill Andrews lives, and when you drive or walk west on College Street it is almost impossible to miss the chairs on top of the porch roof.
That house is also only two houses west of The Roxbury, where 18 year old Bryan Parslow of Caledonia, a SUNY Brockport student, was paralyzed in September 2008 when he fell out of a second-floor bathroom window during an off-campus frat party.
Incredibly, the dangerous practice of putting lawn chairs and kitchen chairs out on a slanting porch roof is not specifically prohibited by the Village Code; and neither is partying on a porch roof.
But putting lawn chairs and kitchen chairs out on a porch roof is still a violation of Section 58-35.5 of the Village Code because the roof has not been “provided with banisters or railings properly designed, installed and maintained to minimize the hazard of falling.”
§ 58-35.5. Exterior standards.
Exterior balconies, porches, roof area (other than used for normal maintenance), landings, stairs and fire escapes shall be provided with banisters or railings properly designed, installed and maintained to minimize the hazard of falling and unsightly appearance.
However, while Section 58-35.5 makes the situation at 32 College Street a code violation, it won’t prevent a student’s family from suing the Village if one of the college students fall off that porch roof and breaks his or her neck, or dies.
The word “roof” is mentioned 11 times in the Village Code, but none of them ban the dangerous practice of congregating on a porch roof, or even of congregating on a slanted house roof.
A lawyer could make a good case in court that this is negligence on the part of the Village.
- Section 42-5 bans the discharge of any roof runoff into a sanitary sewer.
- Section 43-1 Definitions, says a roof sign is a sign attached to roof walls.
- Section 43-1 says a roof sign is a sign attached to the columns of the building which the entire advertising display is above the roof level.
- Section 43-1 also states the a roof sign shall not include any flag, banner, badge, insignia or any quasi-public, civic, charitable or religious group, nor the flag of the United States of America or the State of New York.
- Section 43-5.F (2) states that, No sign shall extend higher than the second-floor windowsill or the roof of a one-story building.
- Section 43-8. A, states that roof signs are prohibited in all zones.
- Section 58-2 defines a building line in relation to a roof overhang.
- Section 58-12 (F)(5)(a)(8) limits the height of building appurtenances and/or service facilities located on the roof of a building in a Limited Industrial Use District.
- Section 58-12.(F)(5)(a)(10) states that radio and television antennas, masts, aerials, horns, parabolic reflectors or similar communication devices located on buildings shall not extend more than six feet above the roof.
- Section 58-35.3.Simply states that a building is any structure having a roof supported by columns or by walls and intended for shelter, housing protection or enclosure of persons, animals or property. Depending upon its applicability, the use herein of “building” shall be considered part of the main building.
- And last, but not least, Section 58-35.5 states that Exterior balconies, porches, roof area (other than used for normal maintenance), landings, stairs and fire escapes shall be provided with banisters or railings properly designed, installed and maintained to minimize the hazard of falling and unsightly appearance.
The situation at 32 College Street is a disaster waiting to happen.
How long before a college student falls off that porch roof? How long before there is an ambulance screaming through the Village rushing another College at Brockport student to the hospital?
It seems that the Village can deal with the situation at 32 College Street in three ways:
- The Village can continue to ignore the situation and hope that nobody gets hurt. That would be foolish, but that is what the Village has been doing for a long time.
- The Village can cite the property owner for violating Section 58-35.5 of the Village Code because the roof has not been “provided with banisters or railings properly designed, installed and maintained to minimize the hazard of falling.”
According to the Town of Sweden’s Final Assessment Roll 2015, the property is owned by Roger M. Young.
- The Village Board can modify the Village Code to ban congregating on rooftops and ban putting furniture on rooftops.
This would be easy to do. For example, Section 58-10 of the Village Code is not currently being used for anything and hasn’t been since the old section 58-10 was repealed in 1984.
Editor’s Note: Former § 58-10, T Residential Use Districts (T Districts), as amended, was repealed 5-7-1984 by L.L. No. 1-1984
That might be the perfect place to insert safety regulations about roofs, which could be as simple as this.
§ 58-10 Roofs
The following regulations shall apply in all districts within the limits of the Village of Brockport.
(A) Congregating on Roofs.
(1) Congregating on house roofs or porch roofs is prohibited (other than for normal maintenance).
(B) Furniture on Roofs
(1) No person shall place furniture of any kind on a house roof or a porch roof, or permit furniture of any kind to be placed on a house roof or a porch roof, within the limits of the Village of Brockport.
It wouldn’t be difficult to make that change to the Village Code, and it would go a long way toward preventing a serious accident.