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Town Preps to Send Wrecking Ball at Hightower Homes

Smithtown officials approve resolution to allow town's building department to demolish vacant buildings; town attorney says action can't be enforced.

Smithtown officials are ready to demolish of two abandoned Kings Parks home, despite the pleas of a Nassau attorney for more time to cleanup the property. 

Smithtown Town board narrowly approved allowing the town to enter Hightower Homes property owned by Frederic Powell, at 77 and 81 Main Street in Kings Park, to demolish or clean up the two vacant homes as needed to bring them within compliance with building codes. Councilmen Bob Creighton and Ed Wehrheim voted against taking action.

"The resolution is incorrect, that’s why I voted no," Wehrheim said. 

Attorney Jeffery Brown stepped forward as the new owner of Hightower homes at the town's Jan. 6 public hearing. Brown said his family fell victim to making a bad investment with Powell for a shared mortgage on the property, who is serving time in jail for bank and wire fraud. Brown sued Powell to win a controlling share of Hightower homes in December 2012. 

Wehrheim and town attorney John Zollo have both seen the new property deed in Brown's name, not Powell's. Zollo said he was "surprised" to see the property's cleanup brought up for a vote.  

"Since we now know Jeffery Brown owns the property, that resolution isn't really enforceable," Zollo said. 

Brown begged town board for more time to cleanup Hightower Home property on Feb. 5 so he can sell it and make up his family's $50,000 investment. He has two interested prospective buyers. 

"If he has an interested party willing to come in, clean it up and rebuild, that’s the way we should go rather than have an outlay of money in the short term, as long as it's going to get done anyway," Wehrheim said. 

Since taking ownership in December 2011, Brown said he's fixed the porches of the homes to prevent collapse, brought the rodent problem under control and removed all mold visible to the eye. Security fences with locks have been installed around both premises to keep out trespassers. 

Supervisor Patrick Vecchio has expressed concern about whether the town could be liable if someone is injured on the Hightower's property, as the town has declared the buildings "unsafe" but has yet to take action. 

Zollo said it's not clear how far along the town board is in soliciting and approving a contractor for demolition of Hightower Homes. 

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Cut Government In Half March 05, 2013 at 05:49 AM
If they knock them down they will have to pay the owner fair market value.
mary wellbourne March 05, 2013 at 12:07 PM
Sorry the right date was Jan. 6,its in the article. did you ever here of an emergency meeting. Seems like our attorney and the two board members do not care about the people who live near this mess. Put Zollo and Wehrhlim in the houses to the right and left of this rat infested dump and these two houses would have been torn down long ago. Got it Local.
Pete March 05, 2013 at 04:13 PM
There comes a time when we can no longer turn the other cheek- Its time to put on your big boy pants now and take your medicine- Knock them down- time is UP!!!
new guy March 05, 2013 at 05:09 PM
Yeah Mary...I got it. Your a piece of work. Thanks for posting.
Lauren De Gray Kastrinos March 11, 2013 at 05:12 PM
I believe they decided they can knock them down. lets hope so they are disgusting.

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