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Town of Riverhead

 
PRESS RELEASE – Code Enforcement Protects Residents with Efforts to Reduce Illegal Short Term Rentals, Zombie Homes & Other Blighted Properties
 
Posted on Thursday August 17, 2017
 
RIVERHEAD, NY-- In order to better protect the safety of all residents and visitors within its borders, the Town of Riverhead has recently increased its efforts in enforcing regulations against the fast growing illegal short term/vacation rental problem, vacant and abandoned “Zombie” houses, as well as overcrowded housing violations.
 

TOWN OF RIVERHEAD

Office of the Supervisor

 

P R E S S    R E L E A S E

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:    August 17, 2017

 

CONTACT:       Dawn Thomas, CDA Director (631) 727-3200 Ext. 287

 

CODE ENFORCEMENT PROTECTS RESIDENTS WITH EFFORTS TO REDUCE ILLEGAL SHORT TERM RENTALS, ZOMBIE HOMES & OTHER BLIGHTED PROPERTIES

 

RIVERHEAD, NY-- In order to better protect the safety of all residents and visitors within its borders, the Town of Riverhead has recently increased its efforts in enforcing regulations against the fast growing illegal short term/vacation rental problem, vacant and abandoned “Zombie” houses, as well as overcrowded housing violations. 

 

In 2016, the Community Development Department obtained $100,000 in New York State Zombie Grant funding that was made available by the New York State Attorney General’s Office to address the many vacant and abandoned homes created due to the recent foreclosure crisis.  Community Development Director, Dawn Thomas said, “This funding allowed the Town to hire a prosecuting attorney and a Spanish speaking Code Enforcement Officer, as well as to purchase code violation tracking software that assists in preparing court paperwork and tracking code violations.”

 

Utilizing this grant funding, the Town Attorney’s Office Code Enforcement Division stepped up enforcement against the so-called “Zombie” (vacant and abandoned) homes through its Code Enforcement Division in part by using grant money.  Supervisor Sean M. Walter said, “Their efforts have been tremendously effective,” he said. “It is my strong belief that this action will assure the safety and well-being of those residing in our town and will potentially save lives by addressing dangerous conditions before a disaster such as a house fire occurs.”

 

Town Attorney Robert F. Kozakiewicz said that shortly after receipt of the grant funds in October 2016, the Town Attorney’s office began commencing Supreme Court actions to enforce the Town Code, in addition to continuing to increase enforcement efforts in the Riverhead Justice Court.  “Utilizing its power to enforce matters in Supreme Court enables the Town to obtain injunctive relief which precludes property owners from utilizing property in violation of the Town Code and also allows the Town to collect much larger fines than the $1,500.00 maximum allowed per violation in Justice Court,” he said. 

 

This year, the Town Attorney’s office has already commenced eleven separate actions in Supreme Court and has obtained five separate injunctions, as well as contempt of court applications for violations of the Town’s Rental Law and other housing violations.  Additional actions have recently been authorized by the Town Board as well. Recalcitrant property owners that continue to rent property in violation of the Town Code and/or Supreme Court orders which preclude the rental, may result in heavy fines and potential jail time for property owners. Two property owners recently settled cases with the Town in July resulting in more than $12,000 in fines payable to the Town of Riverhead while gaining code compliance and ensuring the safety of the occupants of the properties, as well as surrounding properties.  Kozakiewicz said that there are additional pending actions that could result in hundreds of thousands of additional fines paid to the Town.

 

The diligent efforts of the town’s code enforcement team also resulted in the recent demolition of two long standing vacant and abandoned houses on Route 58 near the intersection of East Main Street.  “The Town of Riverhead will continue to aggressively pursue those property owners who refuse to be in compliance of town codes and regulations,” Supervisor Walter said. “The safety of our residents is of utmost importance and we will not stop our efforts to protect them.”

 

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PRESS RELEASE – Code Enforcement Protects Residents with Efforts to Reduce Illegal Short Term Rentals, Zombie Homes & Other Blighted Properties
PRESS RELEASE – Code Enforcement Protects Residents with Efforts to Reduce Illegal Short Term Rentals, Zombie Homes & Other Blighted Properties