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