A vacant house on a dilapidated property on Marshall Drive in Selden is in danger of imminent collapse, according to Town of Brookhaven Senior Building Inspector Robert Incagliato.
The Brookhaven Town Board, at a public hearing on May 26, discussed the roughly 2,000-square-foot house and surrounding property, and ultimately voted to demolish the house upon the recommendation of Incagliato and other independent engineers’ reports if no significant progress is made by the owner in fixing the house’s compromised foundation within 30 days.
James Grant purchased the house for about $45,000, he said, in March 2015, with the intentions of rehabbing it and the surrounding property then flipping it to a prospective buyer for a profit. Grant’s sale fell through when the buyer learned of the possibility the town would demolish the structure, leaving Grant with few options. He testified at the hearing that he started the process to obtain a building permit that would be required to fix the crumbling foundation, in April 2015. The building permit, which is good for one year, was issued on October 29, 2015.
“I didn’t know I was under a specific time restraint to get it done,” Grant said.
An engineer’s report from the firm Cashin, Spinelli & Ferretti LLC declared the house unfit for human occupancy on April 15, 2015. The report sites debris and rubbish throughout the property, abandoned vehicles with expired registrations, an illegal and unsafe rear addition to the house, a deteriorated roof and frame, animal and insect infestations and damage to the house’s foundation as evidence for the recommendation to demolish the house. It stands less than 500 feet from Newfield High School.
“It is evident that the owner has not taken any of the required steps to perform maintenance as may be required from time to time to ensure the entire site is safe and secure and does not present a hazard to the adjoining property owners and to the general public,” the report said.
Grant and his attorney argued that he was required to spend about $5,000 to receive the yearlong building permit, and didn’t want to invest more time and money into fixing the property knowing the town was considering having it torn down anyway.
Town officials visited the property on May 25, one day prior to the hearing to check on the status of the house and see how much progress Grant had made. According to Incagliato, the front door was wide open along with second floor windows, making access to the dangerous structure easy for anyone.
“The damaged walls and foundation still exist,” town employee Bill Faulk said on behalf of the Town Law Department. “There has been no work done to the house at all.”
Grant and his attorney attended the hearing hoping for a six-month adjournment to continue working on the rehabbing process.
“You can’t just get a permit and use that as a ticket not to do anything for a year,” Town Attorney Annette Eaderesto said. “It has now been exposed since October 29, 2015 to all the elements of the winter. This foundation is getting worse. … We don’t want a kid to be in there when this thing starts to collapse.”
Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) represents the district that the property is in.
“We’ve been getting complaints about this house constantly and you’re not moving,” he said to Grant. “We’ll give you 30 days. That’s the fairest thing we can do. You’ve had over a year to start to rectify these problems. Now we’ll give you another 30 days. If you don’t make any substantial move at this point, we’ll knock down the house and we’re probably going to do you a favor because I think that’s what you’re going to end up having to do with this structure.”
A check of the house from just outside the property on June 3 showed a roll-off dumpster in the driveway and very little visible debris. The front door appears secured, though second floor windows remain wide open. Leaves and overgrown vegetation remain on the property. It is unclear if any work has been done to repair the foundation.
Grant has until June 25 to stave off demolition, though Eaderesto said he could get an extension if he makes a good faith effort to repair the foundation before that time.