Written by Michael Scro Friday, 21 March 2014 00:00
Village of East Williston Attorney Jeffrey Blinkoff announced on Monday, March 10 that the much-debated 8 Sumter Ave. property will most likely face demolition, however not right away.
Blinkoff was in Nassau County Supreme Court recently, where Judge McCormack gave the owners 30 days to sell the house, or prove the inspection report was incorrect.
“It’s not unexpected for the judge to say that, and I objected to it,” Blinkoff said. “It does appear the demolition will proceed, just not today.”
In response to a “show cause order” to halt the demolition filed by property owners John and Theresa Muzio, Blinkoff said he filed an affirmation in the village’s position, and has since been able to gain entry to the premises. The Muzios did not return calls for comment.
“An inspection was conducted, a lot of photographs were taken, and everything was submitted to the court,” Blinkoff said. “The judge (Nassau County Supreme Court Judge James McCormack) reviewed those, and his indication was that essentially, they (property owners) were nearing the end of the road.”
According to Blinkoff, photographs revealed snow inside the house, which he said is “unfortunate, but that’s the situation here.”
Blinkoff will be back in court in April, and is expected to report back to the village on further progress.
Former Village of East Williston Deputy Mayor James Daw said houses come to the village’s attention every few years, but referred to the issue of 8 Sumter Ave. as “unique.”
“I don’t think we’ve ever had someone aggressively fight to keep the house from being demolished—its a lunatic situation and I hope we never see it again,” Daw said.
East Williston Fire Department 1st Assistant Chief Patrick Theodore asked if anything can or is being done to prevent the same issue happening again with another village property. The village code requires certain measures of maintenance for their properties, and besides keeping your home safe, the village is required to enforce the New York State Property Maintenance Code, which has a section that requires a home’s exterior and property be presentable.
According to Blinkoff, the village and state code allows two different methods to seek enforcement—bring about legal action in village court and then supreme court.
“The village court has certain powers, such as the power to fine and impose monitory penalties,” Blinkoff said. “The supreme court can order an injunction to either get someone to do something or stop them from doing something.”
The village had been granted demolition rights by a February 2012 court order, and the plan was approved by the village board in October last year, when it accepted a $28,500 bid from East Williston-based J. Galvin Construction. A survey was required prior to demolition.
In a court order in January, Judge McCormack approved the Village of East Williston sending J. Galvin to inspect the property, which permitted the village to repair or demolish the structure after an inspection.
The village tried to inspect the house on Jan. 14 and 31. The Muzios thwarted their entry each time, calling the police.
“This property has been something of concern for decades, so the question is bringing action sooner, and that’s something we can explore,” Blinkoff said, who indicated he will check with other villages on their courses of action, and review the village code.
•The village board acknowledged the departure of Village of East Williston Library Director Susan Quinn, who is taking another library position on Long Island.
“On behalf of the village, we thank you for your service,” Trustee Robert Vella said, prompting a lengthy round of applause from residents attending the meeting.
“We wish you very well, you were always there for us when we needed you,” Village Mayor David Tanner said.”
•The village board passed a resolution to hold a public hearing on April 7 to introduce a law that will permit the village to override the tax cap if needed.
“This is just in case some future interpretation of the law comes out that might change some of the actions that we have,” Tanner said, who indicated that the budget has a zero percent tax levy, and a negative tax rate (-7.329 percent).
•The village board reissued notification that copies of the tentative 2014-15 budget are available by e-mail blast or can be picked up at the village office.
— Rich Forestano contributed to this story