Housing group pushes back on demolition order

With Greenport Village moving to condemn and demolish it’s Second Street multi-family house, the North Fork Housing Alliance is pushing back, blaming the village for much of the delay in getting permits to rebuild the structure gutted by fire in August 2008.

The building at 620 Second St. provides Section 8 housing for low income renters, was badly damaged in a fire that destroyed an adjacent house. Earlier this week the Village Board said too much time has elapsed since the blaze and ordered the building taken down.

But in a letter to the Mayor David Nyce dated Wednesday, July 27, NFHA executive director Tanya Palmore threatened to pass any costs onto the village should the house be demolished and have to be rebuilt, instead of renovated.

Plans to renovate the structure have been under way, but that requires approvals from the state Housing Trust Fund Corporation, which would fund the reconstruction. Admitting that  state approvals have been slow in coming, Ms Palmore told Mr. Nyce the vote to demolish the house was “a purely political response to a vociferous neighborhood group” and that the village itself was responsible for some delays.

The application for a village building permit has been pending since June 30 and NFHA has yet to receive an approval or comments on the application, she said.

“It seems, at best, disingenuous for the village to move to demolish the building while it has, at the same time, held up the building permit for the reconstruction,” Ms. Palmore wrote.

She also charged that her request for minutes of an Historic Preservation Commission meeting approving plans for the rebuild haven’t been forthcoming, despite eight months of asking for them. The state had requested to see those minutes, she said.

Neighbors have been complaining for much of the past three years about dangers in allowing the structure to remain, saying that people are experiencing respiratory illnesses and that the house is filled with rats and raccoons. They fear that children could be injured  and that the burned-out shell could lower local property values.

They brought their complaints to Monday night’s Village Board meeting. The board then unanimously agreed to pursue legal action to condemn and demolish the property.

Ms. Palmore has said she intends to seek an injunction to stop the village’s legal action.