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.