Cutchogue landlord answers to housing charges

08/29/2014 12:00 PM |
Two of four buildings that house six numbered apartments at the Cutchogue business property where town officials say people are living illegally. The buildings were described in the 1960s as being part of a 'labor camp' where farmworkers lived. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

Two of four buildings that house six numbered apartments at the Cutchogue business property where town officials say people are living illegally. The buildings were described in the 1960s as being part of a ‘labor camp’ where farmworkers lived. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

A Cutchogue business owner pleaded not guilty Monday in Southold Town Justice Court to charges that he’s renting apartments at his Cox Lane property in violation of town code.

Robert Hamilton, owner of Prime Purveyors, faces six counts of violating town code for leasing six apartments at 8305 Cox Lane. In court, assistant town attorney Lori Hulse, who is handling the case, told Justice William Price the town is prepared to take Mr. Hamilton to trial if the tenants aren’t evicted.

Mr. Hamilton was initially cited by the town in January, after former tenant Delia Kuhlmann filed a complaint with the town that units on the business property were being rented, which is not a permitted use in the town’s light industrial zone where the property is located, Ms. Hulse said. Mr. Hamilton did not comply with a resulting notice to vacate the property and the town is proceeding with legal action to stop the operation, she said. It’s unclear how long the units have been rented out, Ms. Hulse said.

Heating and water issues have been a concern at the property, Ms. Kuhlmann said in a recent interview. According to county Department of Health Services documents obtained last week by The Suffolk Times, samples taken by the health department in August 2013 showed abnormally high amounts of manganese in the drinking water at the property.

Afterward, the county issued a notice advising tenants not to drink the water, because consuming high levels of manganese can cause adverse health effects, according to department records.

In December, records show that Mr. Hamilton connected the property’s four buildings to Suffolk County water. He was also cited by the health department for keeping the heat too low during the winter, documents state. Mr. Hamilton’s attorney, Harold Steuerwald of Bellport, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mr. Hamilton is due back in Southold Town Justice Court Monday, Oct. 27.

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