Smithtown officials have temporarily spared Hightower Homes from a date with a wrecking ball, giving the new owner two weeks to make the property safe.
Smithtown Town Board voted unanimously to revoke their Feb. 28 resolution that allowed town workers to enter Hightower houses, at 77 and 81 Main Street in Kings Park, to clean up or demolish the vacant buildings, deemed unsafe by building inspectors.
Councilman Thomas McCarthy got into a heated debate with new owner Jeffery Brown, questioning whether Brown intends to fix up the blighted homes or simply sell the property off.
"You saw us in January, now it's almost April. It's been a lot of lip service since then on your behalf, I'm sorry to say it, but that's what it's been," McCarthy said. "We will tear these houses down if you don't stand by the agreement."
Town officials have laid out three conditions Brown must meet by April 4 for Hightower homes to be deemed safe.
First, a design professional must be hired to survey the blighted homes and prepare a report with recommendations for what corrective actions will be required for the Hightower Homes to be deemed safe under town building codes.
Brown said he has hired Frank Cannata, a Kings Park engineer, to inspect the homes while urging him 'to move as quickly as he can." Hightower's owner said he is concerned whether two weeks would give enough time for Cannata to finish the report.
The town is also requiring Brown to apply to renew all the expired Town of Smithtown building permits for the Hightower Homes sites, to have the house's Tyvek wrapped and siding installed on each building.
Brown said he has no issue making sure siding is put up. He claims to have spent more than $40,000 in construction on the buildings already.
If Hightower Homes owner does not meeting these terms, McCarthy said the town can vote again to declare the two structures unsafe and will move forward with demolition.
"We are going to hold your feet to the fire on this. People in this neighborhood have lived with these houses, now it's your job. You have two weeks," McCarthy said. "I could go in there in two weeks and get everything done."
John Zollo, the town's attorney, said if Brown makes progress towards the three conditions but they are not fulfilled by April 4, it will be the town board's discretionary call on whether there has been a "good faith effort and due diligence" towards cleaning up Hightower.