Town Takes Control Of Safety Hazard

A heater and propane tank among garbage inside a vacant home on Sachem Lane in East Quogue.

The Southampton Town Board last week authorized the town attorney and fire marshal to secure dangerous and improperly maintained conditions at a property in East Quogue.

Assistant Town Attorney Richard Harris approached the board April 9, asking to secure the property to bring it up to code.

The two-story, single-family house with an attached two-car garage on Sachem Lane in East Quogue has sat vacant and languished because the property owner has died. Code enforcement was sent to the home to issue citations for various code violations because it is easily accessible because the front door has been knocked in; the roof over the garage leaning off to the right, there being stagnant water in an uncovered and unsecure pool, and a second-floor deck facing the pool is missing most of its railing, with what’s left being in “very bad shape,” according to Harris.

There also looks to be signs of parties, with a propane tank amid garbage inside the home, Harris said.

He added the code violations are currently pending in justice court.

“Since that time, which was back in February, we’ve tried to contact the attorney in an attempt to have the property secured and fixed, and he has not responded to us,” Harris said. “We did, in fact, take all legal precautions as far as notification, postings, and mailings.”

Harris is most concerned about the pool becoming a mosquito breeding ground and asked the board for permission to put in Mosquito Dunks, a larvicide in cake form, to prevent that from happening. Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni, looking at photos of the property, including the propane tank and heater found inside, said he was worried someone might be squatting in the house.

The town also has a second dilapidated house in its sights: this one on Elliston Way in Bridgehampton. Harris said it has garbage on the lawn; branches and vegetation in the driveway; overgrown grass and weeds; and a fence that is falling apart, leading to another backyard with an uncovered pool filled with stagnant water.

Harris asked the board to secure this property, but after getting in touch with the Emigrant Savings Bank earlier in the week, he said he had been “promised” the house and property would be cleaned up promptly.

He said the bank had put a notice on the front door listing a number of jobs to be completed after one of the property’s two owners died, but said no work had been done in over a year. Harris said the other owner lives in California and “refuses to come out here and do anything about the property.”

Harris said on Thursday, April 11, that the bank had promised it would send a crew to the home on Friday to take care of any code violations and that he would be sent photos and details of the cleanup efforts.

Any cost incurred for cleaning up the Sachem Lane parcel goes directly onto the tax bill, becoming a lien on the property. Harris said he filed a notice with the county clerk’s office so if and when the property sells or is foreclosed upon, the town’s lien would be paid.

Councilwoman Christine Preston Scalera asked the work be done “as soon as possible.” Harris said upon the approval of the resolutions the town could have a contractor there within a week.

“These properties pose a risk to the health and safety of the neighborhood in its current condition — people coming in, as well as our first responders,” Harris said. “It poses a risk to the health and safety of the neighborhood.”

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