QUEENS — The city’s Department of Buildings has slapped violations on homeowners of condemned homes in Breezy Point that were destroyed during Hurricane Sandy, DNAinfo.com New York has learned.
Dozens of already shell-shocked homeowners trying to deal with the aftermath of the storm found tickets nailed to their crushed homes this week.
One violation cited “failure to maintain” the building, and the ticket’s wording threatened “criminal prosecution” if the problem was not “immediately corrected.”
“It was shocking,” one homeowner said after finding the summons taped to a mangled storm door Friday.
“Here I am dealing with a house that’s off its foundation, it is condemned, and I finally found a contractor with a bulldozer to push it to the curb so that it can be taken away by FEMA,” said the owner, who requested anonymity.
“And just as I am about to watch my house be carted away on the back of a trailer by FEMA forever, the contractor sees a white piece of paper tacked to it.”
A spokesman for the Buildings Department told DNAinfo.com that the notices were simply a formality of the process, not intended as a notice of civil action.
“These violations were issued to document the damage that occurred and do not carry any monetary penalties for the property owner,” said department spokesman Tony Sclafani.
Still, that offered little consolation for the homeowners left with nothing, after their homes were torn down, but the words on that piece of paper.
“I did not know what it was, and then I stood in the street, watching my house being taken away, and I am reading the paper and it is a summons for a building violation,” said the homeowner.
“What are they smoking down there?” he wondered abou the Buildings workers.
The stunned homeowner, whose family lost two homes to Hurricane Sandy, walked to the nearby office of the Breezy Point Cooperative — which runs the water’s edge community — and found he was not alone — there already were about 35 others summonses piled in a stack that had been issued to other homeowners of condemned structures in the private development.
”We have no homes and the city puts ‘nail and mail’ summonses on them,” he said. “The summons says I am in violation and if I do not immediately correct it, I can get locked up.”
The summons, which was signed by two building inspectors out of the Queens office, begins with precisely that chilling warning from Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri.
“You are hereby notified that there exists a violation in the subject premises as described below, and are ordered to remove this violation immediately,“ the summons read. “If this violation is not corrected as required by law you may be subject to criminal prosecution.”
According to the summons, the violation was “Due to flood (Storm Sandy) entire bldg. Copletly [sic] destroyed, off foundation.”
The remedy, it says, is “Obtain all necessary permits for demo/repairs.”
The three dozen summonses were posted on the Building Department’s website, which means the homeowners — already reeling from myriad storm related issues — must “immediately” deal with the city to clear their record or potential face problems trying to rebuild.
According to the Buildings Department website, the stormed-ravaged owners violated Category Code 73: “Failure to Maintain” their structures.
Stunned homeowners said the department’s excuse for the notices — that they were simply an instrument “issued to document the damage” — still felt like a brutal punch in the gut during such fraught times, and not a very civilized way to declare the homes condemned.
“Even if that is somehow the explanation,” the distraught homeowner said, “they should have given everyone some advance notice instead of shocking everyone with violations.
“Right now, I have another headache, and for all I know, I could be arrested,” he said.
Source: DNA Info