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Wt. Plains sprinkler proposal on hold.

A proposed ordinance that would require all multi-family buildings in White Plains to be retrofitted with sprinklers appears to have been shelved for the time being.

This is due, in part, to the efforts of owner groups, especially the Cooperative and Condominium Advisory Council of Westchester, that are outraged at the financial burden that would be placed on buildings.

Albert A. Annunziata, director of the Cooperative and Condominium Advisory Council, said that at a strategy meeting held by his group on March 31 they drafted, with the help of the law firm Davis and Singer, a "strongly worded letter" stating that the sprinkler proposal had no legal standing. The letter was sent to the White Plains Common Council and the mayor the same day.

The response, he said, was that the sprinklers would not be on the agenda for the upcoming Common Council meeting or any meeting in the foreseeable future.

"In effect the city backed off," Annunziata said.

The measure was being advanced in response to the death of a city fireman who was overcome by smoke in an elevator during an apartment house fire. Fire experts advise against using elevators during a fire.

Retrofitting sprinklers can cost as much than when they are installed during construction of a new building. The National Fire Sprinkler Association estimates costs of $1.50 per square foot for new construction and $2 to $3 per square foot for a retrofit. One White Plains budding has estimated that to install sprinklers in its 180,000 square feet would cost of $360,000 to $540,600.

Meanwhile plumbers and other trades-people are eager for the work and real estate trade groups are hobbled by differing interest among the members.

The cost also have to be weighed with the risks. White Plains is not an isolated island but one large West Hampton co-op was reduced to ashes during the blizzard last month because fire trucks were unable to cross a bridge to reach the barrier island. Insurance companies also provide a 50 percent discount to office buildings that install sprinklers.

Building constructed after 1981 in White Plains are already required to install sprinklers. The new ordinance would expand that to apartment buildings constructed prior to 1981 and to new one- and two-family homes.
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Title Annotation:White Plains, New York
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Apr 14, 1993
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