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Town Attorney: We're Not Demolishing Hightower Homes

Town attorney, John Zollo, says he will work with town board to see what can be done.

An inspection on the Hightower homes completed by the town building department has declared that the structures are not unsafe, according to Town of Smithtown Attorney, John Zollo.

“Nothing in the report said the building was unsafe,” said Zollo. “We are not going to demolish, but we can make minor repairs. There is an issue about a porch patio that is a bit of a cause for concern.”

In the letter, the KPCA, said "these partially constructed homes do not have a certificate of occupancy, do not meet current building codes, and have been sitting vacant for a number of years."

Patch requested access to the building inspection report under the Freedom of Information Law. The town attorney’s office denied the request saying the release of that information could interfere with judicial proceedings.

“We understand the property is an eyesore for the community,” said Zollo. “We are making sure the building is sealed up. It is not something that is structurally unsound to be demolished,” he said.

Right now, Zollo said he is looking at tax payments on the property to see if taxes have been delinquent for more than three years.

“If taxes haven’t been paid, the county can take it back,” said Zollo, who also said that he believed that there was no longer a mortgage on the property.

KPCA president, Sean Lehmann said he spoke with the town council who told him the matter was still being looked into.

“We will stay on top of this matter,” said Lehmann.

new guy March 22, 2012 at 07:57 PM
I thought one house had no footings under the foundation? Did Hightower under pin that house? The same house had no columns in the basement also. Those two houses are a disgrace. Hightower also had, I think three other homes in the same condition, also pending litigation. If I lived next door I would seriously consider lighting both houses on fire. They have been in that condition for far too long.
lisa costello March 22, 2012 at 08:28 PM
and you would seriously be in jail.
Thomas March 22, 2012 at 08:33 PM
As a Kings Park resident I am troubled by the lack of action of the following officials: John Bongino, Director of the Building Department, Ted Sanford, Town Engineer. Glenn Jorgenson, Superintendent of Highways, Charles Barrett, Director of the Parks Department, Frank DeRubeis, Director of Planning and Community Development, Peter B. Johnson, Assessor, Russell K. Barnett, Environmental Protection Director and John B. Zollo, Town Attorney. Each and every one of the forenamed have a direct impact on what, where and how something gets built in The Town of Smithtown. Dare I say that these eyesores would have long ago been remedied if they stood in one of the aforementioned neidgborhoods? By the way, where is Pat Vecchio on this matter...does he not pass them everyday to and from work or does he take the back way to Town Hall? I do not live very close to these "homes", however I do know the family next door who has had to endure looking at this suburban blight for all these years and this is just wrong. What are you waiting for John Zollo?
new guy March 22, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Lisa that was sarcasm....but I would be seriously frustrated. The previous house was torn down without a demo permit and then these two house were built with no permits. Why isn't Hightower in jail? The one property with two houses should be condemned.
new guy March 22, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Thomas how is barrnett, Johnson....the new assecessor , Barrett from parks, jorgenson from highway, or even zollo responsible for any of this. Parks has no jurisdiction over residential structures. Highway would only get involved for a curb cut permit, the current assessor wasn't here when these houses were built and zollo wasn't working dlfor the town either at that time. If any, building engineering and planning had some insight as to what was going on. I remember reading an article that the parks dept. Was asked by the supervisor to board up the houses and fence in the property. Hightower was billed for the work. I don't even barrett was director of parks when that happened. Bill Murphy was running the parks dept. Then.
Thomas March 22, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Home town, every one of these departments has a say in the construction of anything in Smithtown. The only one I might agree with you is Parks....but what the heck...I am sure if Chuck through his two cents in something might happen. Two houses, two driveways, two curb cuts. Frankly I don't care who held the office when thes homes were built. They are in a position to do something about the situation at the present
new guy March 22, 2012 at 09:19 PM
I'm not disagreeing its a disgrace that these housed got as far as they did and that they are in the shape that there in. Just trying to say that not everyone on your list is to be held accountable. Especially chuck. He's a good guy and if he could I know he would help out. It's just that he cant. your are also correct...the supervisor passes those house twice a day. You think he would be fed up with looking at them.
new guy March 22, 2012 at 09:21 PM
And of coarse with zollo at the helm now I'm sure when its all done and said the taxpayers will be giving Hightower some of their money. Zollo has some track record. So good they needed to bring him back.
Sean Lehmann March 23, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Is it the role of the town attorney to make and announce decisions about these structures or is it the job of our elected town board members? The Kings Park Civic Association spoke with Councilman Wehrheim today and he stated that there has been no decision made as of yet. He said that town board members would be meeting with the town attorney as well as other department heads next Monday and this issue would be addressed then. How is it that the town attorney has come out with this statement without first meeting with our elected officials on this matter? Furthermore, the town attorney also states that he is "looking at tax payments on the property to see if the taxes have been delinquent for three years". I have in my possession a February 23rd letter to the town from Suffolk County Legislator Nowick's office which states: "Diane Stuke, Suffolk County Deputy Treasurer, confirmed that the property taxes have not been paid since 2008. The County has started the process to take the tax deed to the property". This is the same letter that was forwarded to me by Supervisor Vecchio and read to everyone at last week's KPCA meeting. Mr. Zollo should have a copy of the same letter. Isn't it the town attorney's job to research and present the law as it is applied to this issue and make a recommendation to the town board for their ultimate decision? One would think that our elected officials should be making this decision, not an appointed town employee.
new guy March 23, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Well said Sean.
Joseph Weiss March 23, 2012 at 05:53 AM
KPCA would be wise to hire an attorney on this issue. Also, it would be wise to both the County and State Dept. Of Enviormental Protection. I grew up in KP from '65-'79, I personally can't remember a problem of this kind.
Lee Nicosia Higgins March 23, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Where exactly are these houses? How many are there and when were they built?
KPLifer March 23, 2012 at 01:58 PM
It was an appointed patronage job, did you expect him to also work? He has a private practice. The town thing is a hobby. Why are you folks still voting for these people? It is time for a radical change in this town.
new guy March 23, 2012 at 02:09 PM
On 25a, in between the valero gas station and the sunken meadow pkwy.
John from Kings Park March 23, 2012 at 02:14 PM
I don't understand the problem here. Why can't a contractor get ahold of these houses on the cheap & flip them? This looks like a win/win opportunity for the right investor...
KPLifer March 23, 2012 at 05:00 PM
They are practcialy falling down. The high school shop class could have built them better.
new guy March 23, 2012 at 10:11 PM
I don't think anyone in there right mind would invest money in this property. Just way too many issues both with the structures and legally.
Patch Fan August 31, 2012 at 01:26 PM
81 and 77 Main St, Kings Park, NY 11754 http://kingspark.patch.com/articles/lawyer-for-hightower-homes-serving-jail-time#pdf-9113444

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